Every spring, turtles emerge from our pond to lay eggs. If you approach them, they will view you as trouble! What does a turtle do when faced with trouble? They withdraw into their shell! Do you ever feel like you act like a turtle when trouble comes? You want to thrive, but your instinct is to just survive. Let us not forget, during these troubling days, the words of Psalm 46:1-2a, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way. . . .” (ESV).
This Easter weekend reminds me of John 20:19-21. There the disciples are in seclusion behind locked doors, much like we are behind closed doors because of COVID-19. Yet, just as a beautiful sunrise gives us great joy, the SON rise of Jesus Christ can give us great joy! John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews. . . .” Easter Sunday evening, Jesus’ disciples are in seclusion behind closed doors and they see the Son! Verse 19 continues, “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them ‘Peace be with you'” (ESV). There is peace and joy in Jesus Christ even behind closed doors, even in fearful days. Notice verse 20 continues, “. . . Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” May you find peace in Jesus Christ this Easter weekend, even behind closed doors!
The prophet Ezekiel saw an awesome vision of God in Ezekiel 1. As the prophet tries to describe in words what he saw, he concludes the description with this comment, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking (ESV).” We cannot begin to imagine the vast expanse of God’s glory. But when we catch a glimpse of who God is, it prepares us to listen. Coupling reading the Bible (listening to God) and praying (talking to God), I try to begin my reading by praying, “Lord, help me see you as I read your word. Show me your glory.”
As He, by His Spirit, gives me glimpses of His person as I read His word, it prepares my heart to listen to what He wants to teach me from His word.
Matthew 14:14 says, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them . . . .” I have been praying, “Lord, help me see people as you see them.” When Jesus saw people, He felt for them. He actually saw them, cared for them, and recognized their need. It is easy to not see the person behind his/her job, behind appearances, behind ideologies. Lord, help me see people as you see them. Help me see peoples’ need for Jesus.
In 1 Samuel 25 David acts out of anger and almost kills numerous people because of one man’s selfishness. In the end, David does not kill them. When he thought of what he almost did, David said, “Blessed be the LORD who has . . . kept back his servant from wrongdoing” (1 Samuel 25:39; ESV). I’m sure David looked back and questioned why he acted without forethought. Yet, he looks at what appears to be broken in his own life and sees the beauty of God in it! God graciously intervenes and keeps David from damaging his future kingship with one impetuous act of anger. Aren’t we thankful that God takes our brokenness and still shows His grace and beauty through it!
In Jeremiah 32 Judah’s king imprisons the prophet Jeremiah because he spoke truth. While Jeremiah is under arrest, God tells him to buy a field from his uncle. That does not seem unusual until we read that the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, is besieging Jerusalem, and the city will soon fall. God instructs Jeremiah to buy the field as a visual picture of His promise that His people will one day return to their land. Jeremiah tells God that he knows that whatever He says will happen does happen; however, it appears strange to Jeremiah to buy a field right when they are going to be taken captive! Here is what God tells Jeremiah in response to his inquiry,
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27; ESV). God’s word to Jeremiah is a word that I continually need to hear. What was true of God in Jeremiah’s day is true of God today: “Is anything too hard for me?”
I have been praying Colossians 4:3 for myself, “. . . pray for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ.” I keep a prayer list for several people I know who have not yet placed trust in Jesus. Specifically, I have been praying that God would open doors for me to talk with each of these people about Jesus. The last few weeks I have set up several appointments with one of these friends, and every time the door has closed. Frustrating! Yet, an unexpected door keeps opening with another friend. I’m not closing the door on my friend who keeps canceling, but I’m thinking God is at work opening an unexpected door with my other friend! He is answering my prayer, but just not how I expected! Thank you Lord for unexpected answers!
Reading Jeremiah 24 recently, I was struck with the absolute sovereignty of God and how I can trust Him in my prayer life. Just like this early morning sunrise, to me a picture of peace, I can be at peace resting in His plan for me and for my family. In Jeremiah 24, God tells the prophet that the Israelites taken captive into Babylon will experience His blessing. Those who remain behind in Jerusalem will be like “bad figs,” “a reproach, a byword, a taunt. . . .” (Jer. 24:9; ESV). I can imagine me praying, “Lord, keep my family from being taken captive.” Yet, it is about those who were taken captive that God said, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart” (Jer. 24:7; ESV). I do not always understand how God works, but I can trust Him to be doing His best in my life and the lives of my family.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life'” (John 4:13-14, ESV).
Spirit of God may my spiritual thirst be satisfied in Jesus Christ!
Way too often I allow circumstances to control my joy. If my life is at ease I feel at peace. If I am dealing with difficult situations, I am weighed down. My gut response is to try to solve the situation so I can feel at peace again. But most of the time the situation is out of my control. This morning the words of the prophet Jeremiah reminded me that my joy cannot rest in my circumstances. Jeremiah writes, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16; ESV). I cannot find peace by controlling my life. Peace can only be found in Him. I know Him through His word.