“Hope is possible, recovery is possible, restoration and reconciliation are possible … there is hope for me, and there’s hope for anybody that’s in a dark place.”—Amber
Amber Bigelow grew up too fast.
Amber’s parents divorced when she was just a baby, and she was raised by her mother, who Amber says struggled with alcohol. “I took care of her more than she took care of me,” Amber recalls. Meanwhile, her dad and brother lived in a different city, suffering from addictions and unhealthy behaviors of their own.
Amber was a poor kid who struggled to make friends and mostly bonded with much older kids. “I never really fit in anywhere,” says Amber, who lived in Minnesota at the time. “I always got good grades in school, [but] I was picked on a lot. I was kind of bullied.”
One of the best known and most quoted and preached Chapters in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the “Love Chapter.” Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit strategically places it immediately following all the teachings on Spiritual Gifts.
I for one am convinced this is purposeful, for I have met many a “Christian” claiming to have mighty gifts yet definitely lack that key attribute of Godly love.
Paul uses the following to explain this:
v.1-3– The gift of tongues while useful to communicate is a waste without Godly love
v.4-7– No matter the turmoil Godly love endures
v. 8-13– Godly love is eternal
In our text today v.6-7, Paul makes six (6) points:
Godly love never finds joy in doing wrong (iniquity)
Godly love DOES find joy no matter how difficult in truth
Godly love has no limit (beareth all)
Godly love believes all. Christians are not to be gullible but to compare all things against GOd’s Holy Word.
Godly love hopes for all thingsthat are the promises made by God to His elect.
Godly love can endure all things that are burdensome, tempting, and otherwise contrary to the flesh. John Gill says of this: that are disagreeable to the flesh; all afflictions, tribulations, temptations, persecutions, and death itself, for the elect’s sake, for the sake of the Gospel, and especially for the sake of Christ Jesus.
Are you using your gifts today with Godly Love?
Father God, I pray today that you will help me to put selfishness away and always seek to do all things with the Agape love that the Apostle Paul speaks about in First Corinthians 13. Help me daily to be the servant in your Army that can do your will for your Glory. – AMEN
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’” Both the book and its most famous quote were products of an incredibly difficult experience. During World War II, Frankl and his family were deported from their native Vienna to various concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He was the only member of his family to survive.
Frankl knew just how unbearable the “how” of life could be. And yet, as Frankl explained, humans are meaning-seeking creatures. We want to believe that there’s more to life than meeting our basic survival needs of food, water, shelter, and safety. Even more, we need this to be true. Otherwise, ours becomes a purely animal existence. Despite all the zoo placards and biology textbooks assuring us that humans are just animals, we certainly don’t act like survival and promulgating the species are all that matters.
Without meaning, hope is difficult, if not impossible. At best, without meaning, we resort to a kind of detachment and resignation. At worst, we resort to self-harm, violence, or even suicide…
Ezra being informed, by some of the princes who complained unto him, of the marriages of many of the Israelites with the people of the land, the Canaanites and others, was greatly grieved and distressed, Ezra 9:1-5, upon which he made a confession of their sins to God, with great shame, sorrow, and contrition, and deprecated the evils which they deserved, Ezra 9:6-15.
Upon Ezra’s prayer and confession, it was proposed by Shechaniah, that those who had married strange wives should put them away with their children, which they swore to do, Ezra 10:1-5, and proclamation was made throughout the land for all to meet at Jerusalem in three days’ time, and accordingly they did, Ezra 10:6-9 when, at the exhortation of Ezra, all agreed to it, and persons were appointed to see it done, and the work was finished in the space of three months, Ezra 10:10-17 and a list of the names of those is given who had married such wives, and now put them away; of the priests, Ezra 10:18-22, of the Levites, Ezra 10:23,24, of the other Israelites, Ezra 10:24-44. – John Gill’s Commentary
As always let us begin with some context: This is the first of the Psalms in the 2nd book of 5 books of Psalms. Most scholars agree that originally Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 wereone and when the Hebrew script was translated into Greek (Septuagint) about 200 B.C. they were separated.
This Psalm can be broken down into two part, v.1-5 the deep desire for God and v.6-11 crying out to God with hope. Today we will look at two verses 5 and 11 which are nearly identical:
v.5Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.
The author is being rhetorical here speaking to himself, asking the question after making the proclamations of desiring God in verses 1-4,‘Why is it I am so troubled and sad?’ He quickly answers himself with the one thing that can silence all despair, Hope in God!
v. 11Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why have you become restless and disquieted within me?Hope in Godand wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, The [b]help of my countenance and my God.
Again in the closing verse the author repeats these words, reminding himself and us, that no matter the trouble or burden there is nothing to big (or to small) that God cannot handle. We need only place our Hope in God.
The psalmist closes each verse with the thought thatfor I shall again or yet praise Him, meaning that even though times are rough and he may be questioning God, why am I going though this? His faith is secure in the knowledge that God is in control and he has hope in God. The questions today is Hope thou in God?
Some context is need here. All commentaries seem to agree that this is a Psalm of David and that it was written when he was on the run from Saul. There are three distinct divisions within the Psalm:
v. 1-10 David prays for Safety –In the opening verse David prays that God would Contend and fight against those who would harm him. Note he closes this section, and each with words of Praisemy soul shall rejoice in the Lord… “Lord, who is like You
v. 11- 16 David complains of his enemies – This is not to be misconstrued as whining but a righteous prayer for salvation from his enemies. Malicious witnesses rise up…They repay me evil for good, I think we have all faced challenging times when it seems like evil abounds around us. The good news is that God hears our pleas and if it be His will, will answer our prayers.
v. 17- 28 David calls upon God for help and support –When desperation seems to set in DO NOT call 800-Phone a Friend. Your real hotline for help is God and David knew that. v.17Lord, how long will You look on [without action]? Rescue my life from their destructions…
The key if you will to this Psalm is found at the end of each section, Praise for God. Again, while most commentators agree the general theme has to do with facing enemies, opposition, or something of that sort. Yet one cannot hope to do that apart from in the case of David God, or in our case Christ.
“My tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.” See now I have made a discourse something longer; ye are wearied. Who endureth to praise God all the day long? I will suggest a remedy whereby thou mayest praise God all the day long if thou wilt. Whatever thou dost, do well, and thou hast praised God. When thou singest a hymn, thou praisest God, but what doth thy tongue, unless thy heart also praise him? Hast thou ceased from singing hymns, and departed that thou mayest refresh thyself? Be not drunken, and thou hast praised God. Dost thou go away to sleep? Rise not to do evil, and thou hast praised God. Dost thou transact business? Do no wrong, and thou hast praised God. Dost thou till thy field? Raise not strife, and thou hast praised God. In the innocency of thy works prepare thyself to praise God all the day long.—Augustine.
According to 1 Corinthians 13:13, there are three great spiritual virtues: faith, hope, and love. And of these three, Paul says that the greatest is love. Paul makes it clear that love drives our spiritual lives, and without it, we are as worthless as a rhythm-less drummer. In addition to love, as good Protestants, we understand the importance of faith. Faith alone saves. In addition, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Paul spends large chunks of his letters making sure we understand the role of faith in our spiritual lives. But hope? Hope can easily get lost in the shuffle like a middle child in a minivan. It’s easy to think of hope as a nice addition to our spiritual lives if we happen to have it, but not necessarily something to be purposefully cultivated and intentionally pursued.
According toTheodoret,and other early church Fathers this Psalm was written when David was being persecuted by Saul, and was was told to get out, escape for his own safety.
We have all been in situations when things seem desperate maybe even hopeless buthow we react is what really matters. Do we go to God with our problems, seek His wise counsel find our refuge and Hope in His promises our drown our sorrows in worldly affairs (alcohol, drugs, etc.) of hopelessness.
David’s response is worth copying:
v.1 Face with persecution David responds that The Lord is his refuge, how can you (his counselors) even suggest he run anywhere but to the Lord.
v.2 To emphasize the gravity of the situation David says, bows are locked and cocked against him and aimed at his heart.
v.3 But if I (David) forget the basic tenets of my faith (foundations) in times of trouble how much of a pretender am I?
v.4Contrasting the temple and heaven David appears to show strength gained from the knowledge God is watching and testing all men.
v.5-7 David makes his closing argument for putting his trust in God here. First the righteous will be tested and approved of God so David’s hope is secure. Second the wicked, David’s enemies fate is not so pleasant but just as assured and David can take solace in that. Finally he notes how much God loves those that are upright (do virtue, moral, and just deeds) they are approved workers of God.
We always have a choice when facing difficult situations. We can trust God and allow our faith in him to quell and comfort our feelings of hopelessness. We can pray and ask Him for guidance and courage. Or we can run and try and do it on our own, hiding panic-stricken that life is over taking us. The choice is ours to make.
Lord help me to always trust in you when difficulties arise. Let me find shelter and comfort in your promises and strength and wisdom in your Spirit. Amen.
After months of quarantine, the world finally seems to be getting back to normal. Masks are no longer required in certain places, non-essential business are opening their doors, and churches are starting to meet again. But the Coronavirus isn’t gone; it’s still here. Just because we hid ourselves from the virus doesn’t mean the virus will now start hiding itself from us. Now that people are beginning to gather in public places again, some may get sick with COVID-19—some may even die. That’s a scary thought. Many are uneasy about returning to normal life, and that includes Christians. Church leaders must now make difficult decisions about how to hold their services. Congregants must now decide whether they should even go to church right now or not. There is a healthy fear in all of us and it drives us to look to the Bible for answers. What hope does God give us at such a delicate time like this? For many evangelicals, Psalm 91 has been the answer. Its message is attractive, because it sounds like the pandemic we’re facing today:
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. (Ps. 91:3)
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. (Ps. 91:5–7)
For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. (Ps. 91:9–10)
he Q & A audio clips below highlight a discussion between Stand in the Gap Todayradio hosts and guests, Dr. Gary Dull, Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Altoona, PA, and Pastor Mike Frazier, Senior Pastor of Canton Baptist Temple in Canton, Ohio. They explore how, when, and why it’s important to begin the process of regathering the church together again.
After weeks of being closed due to the Coronavirus, Liberty Counsel and it’s ReOpenChurch.org campaign, has called on the churches to open and believers to start meeting again. Here are some of its resources.