Lent 2014

homepage_lent2014

As we begin Lent, Calvary’s devotional book encourages us to start by reading our benediction for the Refuge series, I Peter 5:10-11, every day this week.

il_570xN.548751490_mft2

As we take time to reflect on the promise of this benediction, we remember that we cannot read the words of Peter without reflecting on the life of Peter.

Peter, writing to encourage us to be strong, firm and steadfast, knows what it means to sink under doubt and suffering (Matthew 14:22-33; Luke 22:54-62).

Peter, writing to let us know that God will himself restore us, knows what it means to experience that forgiveness (John 21).

As we reflect on God’s great promises, we hope this song, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), will be a beautiful reminder of these truths this Lenten season.


May God bless you as we prepare for Easter.

Jim and Lisa

 
The verse design is from ToSuchAsTheseDesigns.

Psalm 113

summer-psalms-web1
The Message, a paraphrase translation of the Bible, translates Psalm 113:

Hallelujah! You who serve GOD, praise GOD!
Just to speak his name is praise!
Just to remember GOD is a blessing —
now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to GOD!
God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with GOD, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.
Hallelujah!

Is It Wrong To Long For Death?

undivided

The issue of suicide is extremely complex.  There was a lot of information on the topic that I wanted to include in Sunday’s sermon that I simply had to leave out for the sake of time.

I did briefly mention that it is not wrong to have thoughts of longing for death, but those thoughts can be a sign that there are serious underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Let’s think through this issue together.  First, all believers to some extent should long for death because it means that we will be together in heaven with Christ.  This is Paul’s point in Philippians when he says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain…I desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Phil. 1:21-24)

But more than that, there seem to be specific seasons when even great men and women of God longed for death as a way to end the pain and misery of life in a fallen world.  Elijah says, “I have had enough, Lord.  Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4); Moses says, “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now – if I have found favor in your eyes – and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Numbers 11:15).   Of Jonah it is said, “When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.  He wanted to die and said, “it would be far better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:8). Even Jesus said, “my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, even to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38).

Other than the case of Jonah, God does not seem upset by these requests for death from his servants.  In fact, their longing for death moves him to action based on his infinite compassion.  So it is not wrong to long for death, even to request it of the Lord.  But the key difference is that none of these men took matters into their own hands and attempted to take their own lives.

For those who serve the Lord today in the midst of a fallen and broken world, we can almost expect that there will be times of great anguish where we, too, wish for death.  This, however, is different than a persistent voice from the Evil One in a person’s soul telling him to end his life or thoughts that the world would be better without him.  Desiring to be with the Lord is different than on-going depressive thoughts and feelings that leave an individual feeling that death is her only way to end the pain.  Any on-going encouragement to commit suicide is a sign that what an individual is experiencing is different than what Moses, Elijah, Jonah and Jesus experienced.

So, if you find yourself at times of great stress and anguish longing for death, please know that this is not wrong.  But if there is a persistent, regular urge to end your life, you should follow the encouragement of the Psalmist who writes: “Why are you so downcast, o my soul? Why are you so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (42:11) and the encouragement of James who says, “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)  It is important that you talk to a trusted friend or church leader who can help you find your strength in the Lord.

Blessings,

Jim

I John 2:3-6

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

NIV (1984)

Verses on Work

Sunday’s sermon, “Work,” from our Life Together series looked at God’s instructions for godly behavior at the workplace and in school from Ephesians 6:5-9.

As you are reflecting on the sermon from Sunday and what God may be asking you to do, consider some of the verses from Proverbs related to work.

Proverbs on Work:

  • Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)
  • Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.  He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. (Proverbs 10:4-5)
  • He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. (Proverbs 12:11; also Proverbs 28:19)
  • From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him. (Proverbs 12:14)
  • Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor. (Proverbs 12:24)
  • Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it. (Proverbs 13:11) NASB
  • All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)
  • The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on. (Proverbs 16:26)
  • Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger. (Proverbs 19:15)  NASB
  • A sluggard does not plough in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing. (Proverbs 20:4)
  • The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. (Proverbs 21:25)
  • Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men. (Proverbs 22:29)
  • I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (Proverbs 24:30-34)
  • The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly. (Proverbs 26:15-16)
  • She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. (Proverbs 31:13-16)
  • Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:31)

 All the verses are from the NIV unless otherwise indicated.