Can they take our Lord away?

Ten years have elapsed since the nightmare attacks of September 11, 2001. On that horrible day, hate ended 3,000 innocent lives and damaged countless others. Moreover, it shattered the illusion of security and peace on our shores.

The terrors of that day still reverberate in our hearts as the wounds stubbornly refuse to heal. They took something we can never recover and that frightens us, as a nation. When we lose the unrecoverable, we feel lost at sea with no hope of rescue.

The Apostle John illustrates this important point and leaves us with hope.

After Jesus is crucified, he is placed in a tomb, sealed shut by wary Roman officers (Matthew 27:62-66).

Mary Magdalene goes at sunrise to be at the tomb to be with her beloved Savior (John 20:1; Mark 16:2). Seeing the stone was rolled away, she ran to get Peter and John (John 20:2). They return and discover that Jesus is not in the tomb (John 20:3-10).

Mary Magdalene remains and sees a man she mistakes for a gardener (John 20:15). She pleads with him to tell her where they took the Lord’s body (John 20:15).

Jesus spoke to her, telling her who he was and she was ecstatic (John 20:16-17). He sent her back to the disciples to announce his resurrection (John 20:18).

Earlier, Mary Magdalene wept because “they have taken away my Lord” (John 20:13). Peter probably had the same idea when he argued with Jesus about going to the Cross (Matthew 16:21-23) and why he cut off Malchus’ ear (John 18:10). He feared his Lord was being taken away from him.

Our lives are filled with people who will try to take our Lord away from us. The terrorists hoped to accomplish that as a part of their mission. Undoubtedly, it worked for some people.

Troubles, heartaches, financial hardships, illness and death will all conspire to separate us from our Lord.

The victory is that no one can rip Jesus out of our hearts unless we allow them to do so.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35, NKJV).

No one can take our Lord away from us unless we allow it to be done (Hebrews 6:4-6). Nothing we face in this life is capable of separating us from Jesus (Hebrews 13:5).

If another major terrorist attack hits our country, the Lord will still be here. We have nothing to fear spiritually. “There is therefore now no combination to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

If we remain in Christ, no spiritual harm can come to us. We may lose our physical lives but heaven will still be our destiny (John 10:10). We must have faith and courage, bolstered by the knowledge of the Word to keep our spirits high.

Christ will never leave us so we can be fearless in his arms.

How do we give problems to the Lord?

How do we unburden ourselves by giving our problems to the Lord, so he can help us through them?

Problems are part of the human condition. “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1, NKJV). Jesus said, “Sufficient for the day is its own troubles” (Matthew 6:34).

We cannot escape problems while we are on this earth. All we can do is to eliminate as many of the self-inflicted wounds as possible and learn to better deal with issues as they arise. God will help us with these challenges. Continue reading “How do we give problems to the Lord?”

Anything Like Me

by Paula Harrington
daddaughter3.jpgThere’s a new song on country music radio about a father talking about his unborn son. The chorus has the words, “If he’s anything like me,” and then goes into the similarities that the two will probably have in common. Every time I hear it, I think about my heavenly Father.
I’m grateful that he isn’t anything like me. Yes, of course, I’m made in his image (Genesis 1:26), but that’s where the resemblance ends.
When things don’t go my way, I tend to get frustrated. When I trust someone and they let me down, it’s difficult for me to trust them again. I expect people to do what they say and when they don’t, I’ve been known to lose my temper.
I let the troubles of this life get me down. I squander too much time worrying about what others do or don’t do and waste energy on things that don’t matter. I don’t spend enough time with the Scriptures. My prayer life isn’t near what it could be.
I wish I gave more of my means and took bigger leaps of faith. I tire of people who claim Jesus, but don’t want to live like him or love like him.
I have to make an honest effort to be nice to some people.
In my haste to get from day to day, there are times when I miss out on helping others and fail to further the Kingdom. There are moments when my light is so enveloped with worry that it fails to shine.
It’s not always easy for me to love, forgive, serve, trust, and go that extra mile. I get run down, fed up, and overwhelmed.
But not my God.
He offers salvation to everyone. He’s always willing to forgive. He’s good, patient, trustworthy, loving, and in control. He’s caring and committed. Always.
He never tires. He won’t forsake. He’s eager to listen, inspire, comfort, and encourage 24/7. He’s fair, whether I always understand him or not.
I’m thankful that my Father isn’t anything like me and even more grateful that he loves me anyway.

"In Everything Give Thanks"

by Tim Hall
Christians have a secret for helping them through times of trouble.
morningflower.jpgThe sky this morning is clear and a vibrant blue. The sunshine is bright and temperatures are pleasant. I give thanks to God for these conditions. Would I do the same if it were rainy, cold and overcast?
Gratitude comes easily when our health is good and our finances are in the black. When problems arise, however, our focus turns to those negatives. We find it difficult, if not impossible, to thank God during such times.
A story has been told about Matthew Henry, famous commentator on the Bible. On one occasion he was robbed. He was known for being grateful, but how would he react to this cloudy day?
In his diary, Henry wrote the following: “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my wallet they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
Paul’s directive in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is clear: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (NKJV). His instruction in Philippians 4:6 is aimed toward times of trouble, but note again the presence of thanksgiving: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Why is thanksgiving given prominence in God’s plan? Because it provides perspective, a point of view I need during times of struggle. When I kneel in prayer to ask for help in my present crisis, thanksgiving will remind me that God has blessed me in the past. If he came through for me then, will he not be faithful to come to my side now?
November is the month for the holiday known as Thanksgiving. For Christians every day should be an occasion of gratitude to God.
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful to him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

One Fixed Stake

Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed stake my spirit clings;
I know that God is good.
—John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Eternal Goodness”

Life is a series of storms and squalls. Winds howl and waves toss us mercilessly. Dark clouds roil, lightening flashes in brilliant sheets, thunder shakes the very air. Our boat takes on water and seems ready to sink. Continue reading “One Fixed Stake”

The God Who Comforts the Downcast

Filled with feelings of discouragement and helplessness, weary souls plod through dismal and shadowy valleys. We are human. We know what fear and discouragement are. Even the apostle Paul admitted to being downcast. Although the details of his situation were different, his words sound as though he has walked in our shoes. “When we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn — conflicts on the outside, fears within.”/1

  • Distress can come into our lives from many different sources. Different paths wind their way into the dark valley. Some of those trails we might inflict upon ourselves. At other times, they seem foisted upon us without provocation.
  •  Looking at the bills, a husband’s fear banishes peace as he realizes outflow exceeds income.
  •  A drunk driver careens into oncoming traffic unleashing havoc on a young family.
  •  Feeling the crushing weight of guilt, a teenager panics as ripples from that choice cast life into a tailspin.
  •  A couple, watching their child grow up into a young person, notices an emerging pattern of bad choices.
  •  A chronic debilitating disease slowly envelopes a healthy body.
  •  Before marriage, a wife had dreamed of a husband who would care for her, be a family man and provide for their needs. She wakes up to the realization one day, “that is not who I married.”
  •  A family feels fear creep into their lives as unemployment lingers on.
    Then there are those Christians like Paul, who are concerned about the reign of God in the hearts and lives of people. Perhaps their congregation looks like a raft full of survivors in the open sea.

If we are walking through a dark valley, what are we to do? Paul had been filled with fear and facing conflict. Yet something happened enabling him to write, “my joy was greater than ever.”/2 Where did Paul find a solution? He summed it up in the phrase, “but God, who comforts the downcast.”/3 Paul admitted he had fears within, “but God who comforts the downcast” brought relief. This was no fluke or special situation.

Paul began 2 Corinthians proclaiming God can handle the trouble in your life. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”/5 God is not locked in a box far away and impotent to bring relief. The Creator is not limited to providing relief in the sweet bye and bye.

What practical counsel does scripture suggest?

First, set your hope on God. Know that God can help. God can work through his providence, through his word and through his people to transform and liberate.

Second, James promises, “draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”/4 Drawing near to God might include purifying our hands and hearts. Has materialism, greed, or serving ego created a credit card nightmare? Has our heart harbored a grudge? Drawing near can also entail developing spiritual disciplines like prayer.

Third, comfort others with the comfort God has given you. One of the ways God brings comfort involves him working through his people to provide encouragement, support and resources.

1/ 2 Corinthians 7:5 NIV
2/ 2 Corinthians 7:7
3 /2 Corinthians 7:6
4/ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
5/ James 4:8