He is always working

Well, they were at it again. The Jewish leaders were harassing Jesus for breaking all the rules. He had healed a lame man. On the Sabbath! That’s work!

Tucked into this story is yet one more support of my hope. Jesus replied to them, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (John 5:17)

Of course, the thing the Jewish leaders pounced on was the fact that in this reply, Jesus had called God his Father. That was blasphemous.

But the thought I pounced on is that God is constantly working—He never sits back and takes a break. It reminds me of Psalm 121: He watches over us, never sleeping, standing beside us, watching over all our comings and goings.

Psalm 121 speaks to me on a personal level. God is also constantly working on a much larger scale.

In the midst of all the terror and misery and upheaval in the Middle East, God is working! This post came my way this week, and it made me smile. God works in everything. God works to accomplish His purposes, in spite of what evil has planned.

It’s good news.

It’s hope.

Read of hope in the Muslim world: Miracles in the Middle East. (Click on the title)

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.
(Psalm 145:13)

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

“Don’t be afraid.”

Years after Jesus Christ left this earth, He appeared to the apostle John to give the disciple a glimpse of what was happening in human history then and what is still to come in God’s plan for heaven and earth. He commanded John to write a book recounting what he saw.

“Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17-18)

There was Jesus! Alive and glorious and powerful! John was so overcome with the appearance of his Lord in all His blazing glory, that he reported, “I fell at his feet like a dead person.” (I probably would, too, if the Lord came to me today in such a way!)

As you look toward the future, do you feel stabs of fear and anxiety?

The Lord Jesus I hear in the words of this text reassures my heart and soul as they must have reassured John. “No need to be afraid. I am the beginning of all, the end of all. Everything exists in me. Yes, I died—but look! I am alive now and forever. And I have all power and authority over both life and death. Don’t be afraid.”

Isn’t that a comfort? The one we follow and call Lord is alive, and He has broken every power that was previously arrayed against us. Everything is under His control. When I try to peer into the future and feel tremors of apprehension, my Lord’s words quiet my soul.

Surely John must have recalled other things Jesus had said while He was with His disciples on earth: “Since I live, you also will live” (John 14:20).
And as the Shepherd of our souls, Jesus promised, “I give [my sheep] eternal life, and…no one can snatch them away from me” (John 10:28).

The Jesuit priest Father Luis Espinal who worked in Bolivia was assassinated. Before he died, he wrote,*

…the world is not a roll of the dice going toward chaos.
A new world has begun to happen since Christ has risen…

What matter the wait now for us?
We accept the struggle and the death;
because you, our love, will not die!

We march behind you, on the road to the future.
You are with us and you are our immortality!

…We are not in a game of chance…
You have the last word!

I want to march behind the King, on the road to the future, confident of His presence and His promises. 

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*reported by the National Catholic Reporter. This is an excerpt from a longer piece.

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Psalm Prayer:

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.
(Psalm 145:13)

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

The King with all authority

I don’t know what I would have thought if I’d been standing there on that mountain with my friends, at the place He asked us to meet Him. What if I’d witnessed the awful trial and execution of Jesus, but now — here He is, standing here and talking with us about what He wants us to do in this world. What would I be thinking and feeling?

Matthew’s account of the meeting tells us that some of the disciples still doubted.

Of course! They were just like us. And it’s a pretty difficult thing to understand — a man who was dead, now walking around, talking, eating with them.

And Jesus was saying something they’d heard from Him before: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” (See Matthew 28:16-18.) He had also said, “You will have troubles here in this world, but be at peace and take courage — I’ve overcome the world!” (See John 16:33.)

Evil forces had just stomped Him into the grave, but He talked of peace and authority and overcoming the world.

What were they to think?

I don’t understand it all, either. I’m just learning, bit by bit, what all of that means, for my life and in the world.

But I’ve caught glimpses — and it’s powerful!

My hope knows this: The one I acknowledge as King is in control of all heaven and earth.

That’s why I can believe verses like Romans 8:28 that assure us that even in the hardest, most terrible things, God is working for our good. It doesn’t mean all the hard things are smoothed for us or erased from our lives completely. But it does mean that God’s purposes will prevail and His plans for His children are going to become reality.

We follow the King who rules.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.
(Psalm 145:13)

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

Who can stop God?

About the time I was working on this week’s meditations, I also came across a site on the Internet—sorry, I can’t remember where, but you really don’t want to read it anyway—where most of the commenters were unbelievers. There was much mocking and ridiculing of a deity they would say they don’t believe in. The defiance of God was so heavy, I quit reading. Couldn’t bear to read any more of it.

Then there’s the Old Testament story of King Hezekiah, whose country was under attack by the mighty Assyrian king Sennacherib. Read Isaiah 37. Great story. Hezekiah gets a letter from the Assyrian king telling him that it’s useless to resist. Might as well give up. Look around you. Look what I’ve done to all these other nations. (He had destroyed anyone who resisted him.)

Don’t let your God fool you with His promises, Sennacherib wrote to Hezekiah. He can’t save you.

Yup. I hear and see a lot of that attitude today. Laughing at God, ridiculing the idea that there is a God on the throne of heaven, scoffing and defiance in the face of the Almighty Creator.

And God’s word to Sennacherib? “I decided this. I planned it. And I’m even using you to make it happen.” Sennacherib, it turns out, couldn’t stop God’s plan.

The book of Isaiah, full of prophecy, repeats again and again that God has a plan, and He will accomplish His purposes, even using those who do not believe in Him. God has spoken, and no one can stop Him.

No one.

Jump to the New Testament, to the early Christian letters. Jesus had left the earth (at least, in body), and those who still claimed to follow Him were coming under fire. The government was going to stomp them out.

But we find great hope in the letters. Those disciples who were with Jesus just before His ascension to heaven recalled His words: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” In the midst of great persecution, those early Christians held tightly to this hope:

Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to His plan (Ephesians 1:11).

Those writers God inspired with a God-perspective of human history. God has a plan for the whole earth. And “it will all happen as I have planned.” (See Isaiah 14:24-,27.) No one can change that. No one can stop him.

Today, we often hear the words twisted to say, “Not even God can stop this…”

My hope answers, “No one can stop God.”

 

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.
(Psalm 145:13)

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

Key to peace and hope

This post is going to go long…because I’d like to quote the entire Bible. So grab your coffee and get comfortable… No, wait! Just kidding! Don’t go! I’ll keep it short, I promise.

But seriously, the background text for today is all of the Scriptures.

The prophet Isaiah quoted the Lord God often. He introduces many paragraphs with lines like this:

This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies… (Isaiah 44:6)

King and Redeemer: isn’t the Lord of Heaven’s Armies also our King and Redeemer? The King to whom we pledge our allegiance. The one who saved us from slavery and dark and empty lives.

I’m eager to know what my King and Redeemer says …

In the passage that follows, the Lord says,

“I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?” (from verses 6, 8)

Yes, He did.

Israel had heard, time and again, what God had in mind for them.

There were many times they didn’t pay much attention.

Our King and Redeemer says the same thing to us—He has told us His plan and purpose for His children.

It’s there—it’s in the whole body of Scripture. And in it, there is so much hope!

This is my number one reason for encouraging a Bible read-thru on a yearly basis. I was introduced to this several years ago and have done it the last two years. Let me tell you, it changed my perspective on Scriptures. It gave me God’s big picture. It refreshed my hope and increased my peace.

He does tell us His plans and purposes, for both the world and each of us individually.

I recommend you read chronologically. If you’d like an outline for that, I’m happy to share it. If you read about twenty to thirty minutes a day, you’ll be finished in four months. That sounds like a lot, but you will quickly settle into a routine and find that you look forward to your time with God and His Word every day. And if you’re like me and others who have shared the Read Thru with me, you’ll be sad when it’s over.

Because this is His living Word. The Word meant for us today.

Jesus said not one detail of God’s Word would disappear until its purpose is achieved.

Because He’s the one in charge.

That is the basis of my great hope.

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.
(Psalm 145:13)

*

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