St. Paul wrote to the church at Rome words that speak to all the Church through the ages: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope."
It is to that concept, that the Word of God brings encouragement to the heart of those who will believe its message, this blog is devoted.
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth
was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the
Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.Then God
said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)
The Biblical writer – Moses, in this case –
gave us an account of creation that does far more than document the formation
of the heavens and the earth. He gives us reason to hope, especially in the
midst of our own formless void and darkness.
Perhaps you have been there when life spins
out of control, your prayers remain unanswered – even after decades of asking,
seeking and knocking. And all around you the firm foundation of God’s promises
seem as amorphous, void and shapeless as planet earth in the beginning.
Moses reminds us, don’t count God out. Even
if our lot is to pray as some of the heroes of faith prayed, who died “without receiving the promises”
but yet saw through the eyes of faith the fulfillment of their prayers “from a
distance”* then we must do and continue to do what God has given us: Pray.
Pray – looking if necessary through eyes of
faith to the God who spoke to a dark and formless universe, “Let there be
light,” and light shattered darkness.
Pray. And in prayer, grow in confidence. He
will yet speak to our darkness, doubt, and disappointments.
My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens
are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts
than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do
not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout . . .
so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty,
without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
Christian, persevere. Persevere in hope.
Persevere in prayer. Persevere in faith despite the doubts. The night is almost
gone. The day is at hand.
Don’t count God out. Whether we see it in this life or the next, His word will not return
to Him void. It will accomplish what He sent it out to accomplish. It will do that – because He
Decades ago Carole King penned these lyrics:
you're down and troubled, and you need a helping hand, and nothing, nothing is
going right . . . . just call out my name, and you know wherever I am I'll come
running to see you again. Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is
call, and I'll be there . . . .
I doubt she was thinking about Jesus when she wrote those
words, but her lyrics came to mind as I contemplated this passage from Isaiah: Listen to me, O house of
Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from
your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you
turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will
save you. (Isaiah 46:3-4).
The Holy Spirit was speaking to Israel in
this text from Isaiah, but how easily applicable His encouragement is to the
individual Christian today. “I will never leave you or forsake you,” Jesus
promised. “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” He repeated
elsewhere in the Gospels. One cannot contemplate the Bible’s message without
coming away with a sense that God’s eye is always on the sparrow, and His eye
is even more so on you and me.
My wife and I have been young. Now we are old.
And during our nearly forty years of marriage we have walked through floods and
through fires. Life has bruised us, scratched us, and clawed us. It has taken
away our breath, and sometimes kicked us while we were down. But through those decades
of growing to know God through prayer and through His Scriptures, we could look
behind us and point to each bruise, each flood, each fire, and see where God
repeatedly bore us, lifted us, carried us, and saved us.
What the Holy Spirit said to Israel was not only and
uniquely for their encouragement. He also speaks encouragement to us in the 21st
century. When we who love Him are down and troubled, when we need a helping
hand, when nothing – nothing is going right, we can call on His name and know –
because Scripture tells us it’s so – we can always call on His name and He has
promised to carry us, to bear us, and to save us who cry out to Him for help.*
it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the
word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and He . . . . got into
one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from
the land. And He sat down and began
teaching the people from the boat.When He had finished speaking, He
said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down
your nets for a catch.”Simon answered and said,
“Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” (Luke 5:1-5)
St. Peter said to the Lord, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught
nothing. But I will do as you say and let down the nets.” Some of us this know too well what it is like
to have worked all of our lives until we are now in the night of our days on
earth, and as we look at what seem empty nets, we conclude we’ve done nothing
of value for Christ. It is easy, then, for despair to settle over our spirits. But Scripture encourages me, and I hope you as
well, to do something better. What the Lord Jesus said to Simon Peter, He also
says to me and to you who’ve worked hard all our days for Him, even if we’ve
not seen so much as one piece of fruit: “Let down the nets one more time.” Verse six in that passage is an important
part of the story because it reveals something we sometimes forget: the supernatural power of God: “When they had done this, they enclosed
a great quantity of fish, and their nets began
to break.” Faith, the writer to the Hebrews reminds us, is the substance of things hoped for and
the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Our omnipotent God multiplies a few fish and loaves of bread
when offered to Him for use, which is why we can let down our nets once again.
We can continue doing whatever it is we do for Him because of Scripture’s
encouragement to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (see 1 Corinthians
15:58) “Yes, Lord, I’ve worked hard
all night and have caught nothing. Nevertheless, at your bidding I will let
down the nets.”