So, if God is for us …

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you.
(Psalm 55:22)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
(Romans 8:28)

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
(Romans 8:31-32)

This I know: God is on my side! I praise God for what he has promised…
(Psalm 55:9-10)

 

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Psalm Prayer:
O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!
(Psalm 25:1) 

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MORE Promises of His care: Psalm 23; Psalm 33:18-22; Psalm 36:5-10; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 68:19; Psalm 91; Psalm 103; Psalm 106:24; Psalm 121; Isaiah 41:17-20; Isaiah 46:3-4; Matthew 6:24-34; Luke 12:22-34; Romans 8:31; Philippians 4:6, 7, 19; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:7; 2 Peter 1:3; Jude 1, 24; Revelation 7:15-17

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Divine power

“I trust in the Lord, who …. ”

“Your times are in my hands.”

“Cast all your cares on the Lord, for He careth for you.”

When life is rolling merrily along, when life is good, then those words come easily to our lips. But when we’ve been without a job for two years, or when the bad guys seem to be winning, or when we’re not sure how we’ll pay the rent that was due last week, or when we suddenly hear a grim diagnosis, or when we lie awake at nights worrying about the daughter who has left home, then the words are much more difficult to say … and even more difficult to live.

What we can hold onto is a phrase from this verse:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3)

Focus on the divine power. In everything we have meditated on this week—as a matter of fact, everything that is coming up in the next weeks—we depend on divine power. That is the only reason we have this hope. If all depends on our own strength, resources, and power, then we’re sunk.

But it is His divine power that cares for us, protects us, provides for us. This is the answer for my little faith! (My aha! moment) My faith reads the promises, mentally says, I believe, but must rest, finally, in trusting His divine power.

This is what makes it possible — regardless of our circumstances — to pray the prayer below. “O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you!”

In that divine power, we have great hope.

 

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Psalm Prayer:
O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!
(Psalm 25:1) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Watching over you constantly

My friend Sue was out on the highway, driving home late at night during one of the worst snow and ice storms we had that winter. The route home went around curves and up and down hills. The snow plows were out, but the roads were icing over and the snow came down so fast that highways plowed were soon covered again.

She gripped the wheel and peered ahead, praying, asking God to get her home safely.

Then, as she approached the intersection where she would turn left, out of the blowing snow on her right came a snowplow. It passed in front of her, proceeding down the road toward her home, plowing the way ahead of her, right up to the little country road leading to her house.

She says it was just like a reassuring embrace from her Father, telling her He was there, taking care of her.

The Lord himself watches over you!
The one who watches over you never sleeps,
but watches over your life as you come and go.
(see Psalm 121)

A “lucky coincidence”? Just a matter of “good timing”? That’s what many might say. But we who hold this great hope—that our God watches over us constantly—would agree with my friend’s comment. The Lord himself watches over us. Constantly.

Praise the Lord; for each day he carries us in his arms. (Psalm 68:19)

 

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Psalm Prayer:
O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!
(Psalm 25:1) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

“Do not worry …”

The birds are very busy right now. On early morning walks, I find myself stopping frequently to peer into the just-greening trees, trying to find the source of the song I cannot recognize. They’re not only advertising for mates, but also building nests—nests made of twigs and strings and straw that stand up to strong storms. And the birds are migrating. Migration itself is, to my mind, one of the great wonders of God’s creation.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ words:

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 5:26).

We are so valuable to God, so loved by Him, that He calls us His children.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

But what about the passages from Jesus’ sermon where He tells us not worry about what we eat or drink or wear, because God knows what we need? How can we build that kind of faith into our daily lives?

Jesus says to his disciples and to us,

“Do not worry about your life. God will certainly provide for you because He cares so much about you.”

Can we believe him? Do we believe Him? It’s tough to answer that question honestly, isn’t it?

Jesus also uses the lilies as an example.

“And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 5:28)

Oh! That question shoots some pain through my heart. I want to believe. I want to live totally assured of God’s care. I want to live on Jesus’ promise that we don’t have to worry about tomorrow. But I have not yet achieved a worry-free faith. I guess my faith is still “little.”

Jesus is speaking to me in that question. They aren’t condemning, scolding words. They are tender. Encouraging me to rest in Him.

Psalm 106 recounts the history of the children of Israel and describes what happens when they finally reach the borders of the Promised Land:

The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them.

That’s one of the saddest lines in the Bible. There they were. On the threshold of all the wonderful things God had promised them. They could have had the life they’d been seeking for forty years. Yet they did not move forward because they just couldn’t believe God would keep His promises.

Dear Jesus, I don’t want that to describe my life!

If God has wonderful things ahead for me, I don’t want to miss out because I don’t trust Him.

We can have faith in God’s care for us. We’re far more valuable to Him than the birds and the lilies. Think about what He has done to bring us into His family.

Spirit, grow my faith!

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:
O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!
(Psalm 25:1) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The God who wipes away our tears

One of the best reasons to read the Old Testament is to learn more of the character of God. There, you’ll find the shepherd’s care of His people, loving and constant, in spite of humanity’s waywardness, forgetfulness, and outright rebellion. Yes, even His discipline shows His love.

That thread goes right on through the New Testament, all the way to Revelation when John stands in the great throne room of heaven and sees the vision of all those who have come through great suffering for Christ. John is told:

“And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:15-17)

This explanation of God’s relationship to His people is not only a vision of a future heavenly life but also a description of the life we gain as soon as we come to the Lamb and wash our robes in the sacrificial blood.

Our heavenly, eternal life has already begun. Not perfectly, of course. That will come later. But we are already walking in heavenly places. We already enjoy benefits of the heavenly realm. We are already serving God in His Temple here on earth. He is already providing for our hunger and thirst, protecting and sheltering us. We already have a Shepherd who is leading us to life.

There again, we hear the echoes of Psalm 23 and Jesus’ declaration that He is the Shepherd of His flock.

But the revelation given to John tells us about one more touch of intimacy in God’s care for His people: He wipes away our tears.

For many years, I had a child-like image of this. God, waving some celestial wand, would banish sadness from our lives, and we’d always be happy, no reason ever to cry—someday, in a perfect world.

But then I read N.T. Wright’s comment on this: God, “at his very heart, is so full of mercy that his most characteristic action is to come down from the throne and, in person, wipe away every tear from every eye.”*

The Creator, the God who rules the universe, comes to us and personally wipes away our tears. Think of a mother, wiping away her child’s tears as she comforts and consoles. Or a lover, tenderly wiping away tears of the beloved. Or a dear friend, wrapping you with love and compassion and, figuratively, wiping away your tears.

This is not a God waving a wand; this is a compassionate, loving Father who is leading us to our new day and new life. And along the way, He’ll wipe away our tears.

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:
O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!
(Psalm 25:1) 

* from Revelation for Everyone, N.T. Wright

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)