In the Morning

Sometimes we are in a storm that we feel will never get better.  Sometimes the waves seem too high, the troubles seem too deep, the worries seem too much.

Sometimes there is weeping. And we feel like the weeping will never end.  It will never get better. It will never stop.  It will never change.  But know this. It will.  The weeping will not last forever.  The troubles will not stay forever.  The pain will not stay forever.

Listen to what we are told today in Psalm 30: 4-5:

4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

urlWeeping may come in the night. But joy will come in the morning.  It will get better.  It will.

The darkness will not last forever.  When we are in the middle of it, we may think that it will never end.  We may think that it will never get better.  But it will.

You may be in pain now.  You may be in trouble now.  You may be in the middle of a storm now.  Your tears may not stop now.

We all know that feeling.  We’ve all been there.  It hurts.  And not much makes it feel better in that moment.  No matter what you may be going through, you may feel like it will never get better.

It will.  Listen to God’s Word this morning.  It will.  Weeping may linger for the night.

But Joy comes in the morning.

Today, if you are in the night of your tears, hold on.  Morning is coming.  It is.  Morning is coming.  And joys comes then.

Hold tight to God.  He will not let you go.  And His joy will come.

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Don’t Let Grief Change Your Name

Grief-To-Be-Classified-as-DepressionToday, I had the honor of doing the funeral for Luke Foster Nagel.  Luke passed from this life, into true life, after a little more than 40 hours of life.  Anytime there is a tragic death, our words often fail us, we are overwhelmed with grief, loss, and confusion.  Today, at the funeral, I shared the stories of two women in scripture that dealt with terrible loss and what we can learn from them.

First, Naomi.  We read Naomi’s story in the book of Ruth. She was a widow, and her three sons died as well.  She turns to her daughters in law, and tells them to return to their people, for she has nothing to offer them now. Two return, but Ruth stays with her.  As Naomi and Ruth return to to Naomi’s home, this is what happens in Ruth 1:19-21:

19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

After this loss, she changed her name.  In the Bible, your name isn’t just what you are called, it’s who you are.  It deeply reflects who you are. Thus, quite often in scripture, when someone meets God, their name is changed (Abram to Abraham, Sari to Sarah, Saul to Paul, to name a few).

Here we see Naomi say, no longer call me Naomi. Call me Mara.  Mara is the word for bitter.  She is saying that all of her loss has changed her name.

Loss changes us. It shapes us.  It is something that is so impactful.  But don’t let it change your name.  Don’t let it change who are you are at the core of your being.  Don’t let it turn you.  Don’t let it harden you.  Don’t let it break you.

Yes, you will, you must, you should grieve.  Yes.  But don’t let it change your name.

Ok, how do we keep that happening?

The other story I think of is Mary in garden, on Easter morning.  She knew Jesus, she loved Jesus, Jesus healed and saved her. And now she believes, not only has He been killed, but they have taken His body. And she’s weeping, and she’s broken.  Listen to what happens in John 20: 11-17:

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary knew Jesus.  So, the question is, why didn’t she recognize Him?  Why didn’t she know that it was Jesus standing right there?

Scripture doesn’t say. But I’ve got a theory.  Perhaps she couldn’t see Jesus because of the tears in her eyes. Perhaps she shouldn’t see Him because the grief was too much, the pain was too great, and the tears had disrupted her vision.

She knew Him. But she couldn’t see Him.  It wasn’t until He called her name, that that she could see it was Him.

Don’t let the tears that you are crying hide the presence of the risen Jesus Christ from you. Today, He is here.  He is with us.  He has not left us, nor will He.

Listen for Him.  Listen for Him calling your name.  Listen for His voice in your grief.  You are not alone.  You will never be alone.  He will never leave you.  Listen.  Listen. When you can’t see Him through the tears, listen for His voice.

He honors our tears and our pain and our loss. But, do not let the tears we cry keep us from seeing that the risen Christ is with us.

Today, don’t let grief change your name.  And don’t let the tears you cry hide presence of the risen Christ in your midst, even now.

Not Forgotten

This morning, we’ll do a shorter reflection, and return to our full SOAP method throughout the rest of the week. Today, we are going to reflect upon Isaiah 41: 8-10.  Listen to what the Word tells us this morning in this text:

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners,saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Ii-have-not-forgottenn this passage we see that God tells the people that He has chosen them.  He chose their ancestors Jacob and Abraham.  He even tells them that He called Abraham a friend, a pretty high compliment from God, to be called a friend.  That shows just how deep the relationship was between God and their ancestors.

Why is God telling them this?  They are going through a real time of trial. They are under attack. Jerusalem is being destroyed, the people are being hauled away in exile.  The people feel as through that God has forgotten them. They are forsaken. God has abandoned them. They are all alone, in this time of destruction.

And to that, God says this – no.  I choose your ancestors.  I choose the ones that have gone before you.  I have made promises to them.  And I will keep my word, for I am God.   And I will not leave you.  You are are mine.  No matter what happens, no matter how hard the road it, no matter what is going on, God has promised. 

He will not leave us.  He will not forsake us.  He will not forget us.

We are  not forgotten.  Remember that.  Hold onto that.  Cling to that.  No matter how rough the path may be, God is with you.

Remember.

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An Honest Place

psalmsOne of the things that I love most about the book of Psalms, is that each of the Psalms is written from a very honest place. The Psalms are basically songs of praise that we were written to be sung as worship to God.

I love them.  I try to read a few of them each day. They are inspirational, they are hopeful, they are encouraging, and they are honest.

They are written from a very honest place. And that means that sometimes they don’t sound very safe.  Or even nice. But they always sound very true.  Listen to what I read today in Psalm 69: 19-21:

You know my reproach,
and my shame and my dishonor;
my foes are all known to you.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

The Psalmist pours out his heart, his anger, his brokenness to God.  He lets God  really know what’s going in his head, in his heart, in his world.

He lets God know. And the hurt comes pouring out.  The pain is unleashed.  He gives it God.

And that’s such an honest, healthy thing to do.  Such a good thing to do.  Because here’s the thing.

If we hold onto our hurt, our pain, our loss, God can’t help us with it.  When we cling to it so tightly, there’s nothing He can do.  But, we when we release it, give it Him, He can actually do something to help us with it.

But, we’ve got to actually give it to Him. I put it like this.  We need to pray honest prayers, not safe prayers.  Honest prayers actually tell God what’s going on, and let Him help us.  Safe prayers don’t tell God the truth of hurt, pain, and fear. And if we don’t give things to Him, He can’t really help us with them.

Today, this Psalm comes from an honest place.  Today, may our prayers do the same. May we actually tell God what’s going on. And may we find His grace there in our moment of need.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

A Slow Death

Some of the ways that we hurt ourselves are quick and painful.  Some things that we, intentionally or unintentionally, to ourselves can very quickly cause great pain, great damage, and great hurt to us, to others, to so many relationships.

But, not all the things that hurt us are fast.  Some are slow.  Some are a slow death.  In 1 John 3, John talks a lot about love, about being there for each other, about helping each other out in whatever way that we can.

But then, he says these words in 1 John 3:14-15:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

poisonHating others is a slow death.  It’s so slow, you may not even know that you are dying.  You may be unaware of the pain that you causing to yourself, and the pain that you are causing to the relationships in your life.

When you hate, when you don’t forgive, when you hold things against others, when you allow pain to turn into hate, you are slowly, but surly, dying a slow death.

The only way to live, to know peace, is this.  Forgive.  Let God.  Give it God.  Allow His grace to take away the hurt, the pain, the loss, everything.  Allow His grace to wash over you.

Allow His grace to make all things new in your life.  Allow to allow you to forgive.

Allow it to allow you to love.

aWhen we  hate, we die a slow death. Today, may we be truly alive.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

It Will Get Better

it_gets_better_by_incessant_star-d30th5dThe worst thing about trouble and pain and suffering is that we sometime think that they will never end.  They will never get better.  It will never stop.  It will always be like this.  It will never change.

This is just the way that it’s going to be ever.  It will never change.

That’s what we can think when we are in the midst of a tough or tragic situation.  We can think, we can believe that this just the way that it’s going to be.  This is the new normal.  The tears will not end, the pain will not stop.

This is just the way that it is.

Ever felt that way?  I know that I have.  I know that’s what pain makes us think sometimes.  But, that’s just not true.  It will get better.  Listen to what Jesus says in John 16: 20-22:

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

It will get better.  Your sorry will end.  Your pain will end.  Your tears will turn to laughter.

It will get better.  Don’t forget that.  Don’t give up hope. Don’t quit.  This moment is not the end.  It will get better.

Jesus loves you, He is here for you and He has not left you.  It will get better.  It will.

Don’t give up.  No matter what.  Don’t give up.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.