Here’s a sweet thought from a short phrase in Psalm 81:5-7 “When He went out against Egypt, we heard a language we did not understand.”
In his song, the Psalmist is connecting two memories. The one is of how God came into Egypt to rescue His people from slavery. And the other is the memory of how they felt at the time – he sings “we heard a language we did not understand“. That’s his poetic summary of the difficult season in Egypt and its a profound way of expressing human emotion in difficult times – like being in a strange land, hearing a strange language, feeling confused and disoriented.
Some seasons in life are victorious and fruitful, but others are tough and confusing. In the rough and tumble, we try hard to figure out the causes of our pain, and try to understand why things are happening. Sometimes we know we are to blame, and then guilt can eat away at our faith if we don’t remember that we stand blameless before God at all times in Christ’s righteousness rather than our own. Continue reading
“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.” John 16:1
One night recently I woke at 4am and felt that I was in a real battle with darkness and fears. I felt like a helpless ship buffeted by a raging storm. Reaching out for the Lord’s help, I began reading His Word and felt Him speaking to me from John 14-16 in a special way. Verse by verse as He spoke, the darkness faded and my heart filled with the light of faith, joy and peace. Calm waters returned!
In the ‘red letter’ words of John 14-16 I saw a couple of anchors of encouragement that Jesus gave his disciples so that they would not ‘go astray’ in the raging storms of life. Here’s what struck me:
- We each have a special place reserved in God’s Kingdom, a unique ‘room in the Father’s house’ where we belong as sons and daughters. We are not left as orphans.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms…I prepare a place for you…I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you…My Father will love you and we will come to you and make our home with you.”
- God loves us to the maximum, as much as the Father loved Jesus. And He commands us to stay connected to His love because we need this great love constantly!
“As the Father has loved me, so I have love you. Now remain in my love…I too will love you and show myself to you.”
- Life in this world will bring challenges and difficulties, but He’s given us what we need to overcome, and thrive. Battles and struggles shouldn’t surprise us.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world…I have told you this so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.“
- What He’s given us to overcome is His Holy Spirit. Living intertwined with the Spirit is like a ‘branch abiding in the vine’; its living united and connected to God Himself.
“The Father will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth…you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you…then you will realize that I am in my Father, you are in me and I am in you. Abide in me and I will abide in you…I am the vine and you are the branches.“
- We thrive because He defends our hearts with His peace, something the world can’t experience. The world’s peace comes from calm circumstances on the outside, but Christ’s peace comes from His Presence on the inside.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid…I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”
- We thrive because He satisfies our hearts with His joy that can’t be taken away.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in your and your joy may be complete…you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy.”
- We didn’t chose God, He chose us, and destined us for tremendous fruitfulness on earth and into eternity.
“You did not chose me but I chose you and appointed you to bear much fruit, fruit that will last.”
- We are invited to the unimaginable – to do greater works than Christ did – and to ask the Father for as much as we can imagine in Christ’s name.
“He who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name…Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
These ‘anchors for the soul’ are all unshakeable and true for each of us if we come to the Father through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
Meditate on these truths and allow the Holy Spirit to plant them deeply in your heart so that they will become strong anchors for your soul when the storms of life try to knock you off course.
Recently I was feeling overwhelmed by a struggle that’s felt like its gone on for such a long time. I was wondering how long I could continue ‘holding on’ to God, thinking that ‘holding on’ seems to have been the key to a wonderful work of God that we saw in Jacob’s wrestling in the Genesis 32 story.
But then I felt the Lord whisper some great encouragement to my heart through Psalm 139:7-10:
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.
This says it all! His Hand holds me, more than I hold on to Him. And wherever life’s journey takes me, even into what feels like hell (Sheol), His Spirit is close to me. If I feel like I’m in a remote and lonely place, far from the rich joy of fellowship and success, I still have the guiding Hand of God and His Presence. And that’s what really counts. That’s what my soul really needs.
You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Because you are God’s child, He surrounds you with His care. His Hand rests on your life. Let’s your heart be filled with encouragement as you meditate on this amazing truth.
Experiencing weakness doesn’t mean God is far from you. Weakness actually brings Him nearer. We become more dependent on Him, leaning on Him more heavily. This builds trust in Christ that is sweeter, fellowship with the Father that is more intimate, and a flow of divine grace that becomes a powerful river in our lives.
In Genesis 32, we see three “marks” from God on Jacob’s life through the process of wrestling. Continue reading
Though a wrestling process, God prepared the conditions of Jacob’s heart for three great works. First He revealed a new identity and purpose for Jacob’s life, re-directing his history as a deceiver and insecure “over-reacher” to become a prince with God and the father of a nation. Our previous study examines how clinging to the Father in trials achieves this glorious work of unveiling true identity.
Our story continues in Genesis 32:29-30 where we see the next great work God did in Jacob. Continue reading
During a dark night when Jacob’s deepest fears loomed large, when his future felt bleak and God’s good promises for him seemed impossible, he hit ‘ground zero’ and did the last thing he knew to do – he clung to God.
The Father had brought him to this moment of wrestling and it was a precious and pivotal moment of progress in Jacob’s journey. Read our previous study on how trials are a process of wrestling with God that deepens our connection with Him and strengthens us for destiny.
Through wrestling, God transformed Jacob in three ways. The first is seen in Genesis 32:26-28. Continue reading
A remarkable story is told in Genesis 32 about one very dark night in Jacob’s life.
We read that he was in great fear and distress, feeling shaken about his future, alone, separated from his family and servants, and uncertain whether he would see his earthly possessions again. In this context we see something quite unusual: ‘So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”’ (Genesis 32:24-27) Continue reading