“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful.
Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.”
The Israelites had several experiences where they were in bondage, away from their home. Each time they were in sorrow and each time God was faithful in delivering them. When they returned, they were joyful and were again reminded of God’s faithfulness to them. They had reason to shout “The Lord has done great things.”
We go through seasons where we weep, where we sow in tears. There are seasons where we struggle in depression and hurt. But God is faithful, there will come a time when we will “reap with shouts of joy”. God will deliver us through to the other side. And we will shout out “The Lord has done great things for us.” This week let us encourage one another with these words. Let us remember God’s faithfulness in those seasons when we sow in tears and be grateful when reaping with shouts of joy.
“I have taken refuge in the Lord. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountain like a bird! For look, the wicked string the bow; they put the arrow on the bowstring to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; He examines everyone. The Lord examines the righteous and the wicked. He hates the lover of violence. He will rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked; a scorching wind will be their portion. For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds. The upright will see His face.” (Psalm 11)
There are many times when we’re struggling and when we’re hurting that we want relief. We seek refuge from the pain and suffering. We can find refuge in the Lord. He is always there. We can go to Him and find refuge in Him. He is always there watching over us.
The psalmist here knows well where to go and who to trust in such tough times. This week, let us remember the One who cares for His people. Let us find refuge in Him.
“Yahweh, remember what has happened to us. Look, and see our disgrace! Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our houses to foreigners. We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are widows. We must pay for the water we drink; our wood comes at a price. We are closely pursued; we are tired, and no one offers us rest.” (Lamentations 5:1-5)
Lamenting is a part of life. We all have times in our lives when we weep and lament. Jeremiah was one who knew all to well about lamenting. He wrote an entire book on it. His life and ministry was one of seeing suffering and hard times. Seeing God’s people suffer and lament made Jeremiah cry out to God for mercy. Jeremiah cared for the people and called out to God for mercy in such trying times.
Today we forget sometimes that it is a part of the life of God’s people to lament. As long as we are on this earth, we will deal with suffering and pain. We will be worn down and feel crushed by the weight of this world. But we have the option and the ability to cry out to God in those times.
Whether this week we are going through physical suffering, emotional suffering, spiritual suffering or a mix of them, we can cry out to God. We can tell Him our pains and hurts. We can share our sufferings with Him. If we are struggling with that this week, let us call out to Him.
“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.
Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)
We live in a world with a lot of discord and disharmony. There is a lot of division. Sin divides us. But Jesus brings us together. Paul wrote to the church in Rome and reminded them of this. On their own, there is division and strife. But with God, there is unity.
God gives us the endurance and encouragement. He gives us the hope to come together united. This is possible through the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again, is able to bring together people from all walks of life.
The other big thing in this passage is accepting. Paul is not saying we are to accept sins but we are to accept sinners because we all are sinners. But through the grace and glory of God, we have been accepted by the work on Jesus Christ and we can repent and turn to Him.
This week let us encourage one another. Let us live in harmony and let us show love and acceptance to others and as we do point them to Jesus.
“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
During the night before His crucifixion, Jesus shared the Passover meal with the disciples and gave what would be His final words of instruction before He would be arrested and killed. In the middle of sharing with His disciples. Jesus looks at Peter and tells him what will happen to him. Later Jesus tells Peter that before the rooster crows three times, Peter will deny Jesus. Here Jesus is telling Peter (and the disciples as a whole) that Satan wants them. Satan wants to sift them like wheat. He wants to cause trouble in their lives.
But Jesus tells them that He has prayed for them and He tells Peter that when he repents (from denying) to “strengthen your brothers.” Even in these short verses, there is truth. We will have to deal with tough times. We will mess up and fail. But the great news is that Jesus is praying for us. He is interceding for us with the Father. He is able to do that because of His death paying the cost for our sins and His resurrection being at the right hand of God. And when we fail, we can repent and turn back to Him and He accepts us. As well, we have the opportunity to strengthen and encourage one another as we all go through various trials and tribulations.
This week, let us give thanks that Jesus has prayed for us. Let us be grateful that when we mess up, we can repent and turn back to God. And let us encourage one another and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)
Peter wrote these words to fellow believers in one of his letters to the churches. These verses are a part of the end of the letter as he is beginning to wrap up his thoughts.
There are many passages that deal with how to handle the “end times”. Some of them are prophetic of the actual “day of the Lord” and some are more of the times that are to signal the “day of the Lord”. This is one of those passages that’s the latter. Peter is telling the readers (and in turn telling us) that we should be prepared for when the Lord returns.
How are we to prepare? First, we need to be all about prayer. Praying to God giving thanks, praying for strength to endure, praying for others and their needs. We need to be praying. Second, we need to show love to one another. Peter says to “maintain an intense love”. In the world right now we see hate permeate. But we know that God is love and when we are connected to Him then we are able to love one another better. Third, our words and actions should reflect the Father. We are here to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the Good News. Our words and actions should be all about that.
In these times now more than ever, let us be about praying, let us be about loving, let us be about serving and let us be about sharing the Good news of Jesus.
This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from missionary Amy Carmichael:
“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.” (Amy Carmichael)