The Lord is Our Refuge

 

As we enter adulthood, we attempt to provide security and stability for our self and our family through our vocation, savings account, two jobs, marrying someone who is already rich, etc.

 

Yet, we often find that our choices oppress our life and cause us more trouble than they help (Psalm 9:9, 52:7). In this world of sorrows and trials, we need an anchor for our soul, a stronghold where we can take refuge (Psalm 18:2).

 

Once we realize that the Lord is our light in the darkness, and our only real salvation, we release our fear of the unknown and humbly go to Him as our defense (Psalm 27:1).

 

He gives us His strength to traverse any trouble we encounter (Psalm 37:39). Even when we allow the stress of our trouble to disconnect us from Him, He is still there waiting for us to turn back in Him (Psalm 43:2; Hebrews 13:5).

 

The Lord is strong enough to tremble the whole earth with His voice; yet He is a gentle refuge for those who trust in Him (Joel 3:16; Psalm 62:2). The Lord lives forever and is the Rock of our salvation (2 Samuel 22:47; Psalm 18:46).

 

He desires that we meditate on Him and His goodness day and night, and that our thoughts, words and actions line up with His Word (Psalm 19:14). This proves our love for Him.

 

To those who stand against Him, He is a stumbling stone, a snare and trap for their wayward feet; but to His Saints, He is our sanctuary who offers us safety and shelter from any trouble we experience in life (Isaiah 8:14).

 

Prayer:

Father God, we cry out to You in our adversity, knowing that You are our only Rock and our Refuge (Psalm 89:26). We cling to Christ as our cornerstone, who gives us stability and order in our life (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16). The world rejects You, but we stand firmly on the solid footing You provide for our life in every circumstance (Matthew 21:42).

 

You are our precious Savior and we put our faith and trust in You (1 Peter 2:6-7). You are a great mountain and You fill the whole earth with Your power and majesty (Daniel 2:35). You spoke through age-old prophets and then confirmed their words as they came to pass, even over centuries of time (Daniel 2:44-45). This builds our faith in Your faithfulness and we know that we can trust in You.

 

Thought for the Day:

We humbly pursue our Living Stone by faith and do not attempt to earn His love or salvation by our works; so He rewards us with inner peace and joy, which transcend our earthly existence.

– Romans 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:4-8

 

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The Lost Art of Grieving

Loss is a part of living; but grieving is a lost art. We do not want to face the pain, so we stuff it inside, wallow in self-pity and depression, and ignore the one safety valve God gave us to overcome the deep abiding sadness we carry around with us every hour of every day.

If we would allow Him to, our God of all comfort would fill us with His joy and peace as we trust in Him. He enables us to overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit within us (Romans 15:13).

People usually ignore us when we are grieving, because they do not know what to say. They may want to speak to us but cannot decide how to word their feelings. This is common and we do not need to feel insecure.

We can simply say, “I am not sure what to say, but I want you to know that I care about you and that I am here for you in any way that I can be of help.”

We tend to use phrases like: passed on, passed away, graduated to heaven, went to be with the Lord, etc. Using the word “died” will allow the grieving person to realize that it is okay to refer to their loved one in that same way.

We can express our concern by sharing our sorrow that they are experiencing this loss. “I am so sorry for your loss. I really care about you. How may I help you?”

A simple, “What do you need from me right now?” or “What can I do for you?” are appropriate ways to offer help, because they show you support them during this time of grief.

Do not tell the grieving person that their loved one is in a better place, or that they will get over their grief in time, or that this loss was part of God’s plan, or that you know how they feel. Instead, ask them, “How are you feeling right now?”

You do not need to remind them of all they still have to be thankful for or that they can find comfort in the fact that their loved one really cared about them.

Do not tell them what they should feel or do. Let God direct their steps in His timing and way. If they ask you, then start your comment with, “Have you ever considered …”getting a part-time job”, “volunteering at a shelter”, “helping us with our children’s ministry” (in the office, on workdays around the building).

The worst thing you can say is, “It is time to get on with your life.” You could say, “God still has plans for your life and He will show them to you as you are ready.”

Everyone has a different way to grieve and different time frames in which to do this. Some take longer than others. Some never get over the intense feelings of grief and it shapes their future life.

Many friends forget about the grieving person once the funeral is over. That is when the person needs us the most. Take them shopping, to get their hair done, or for a quiet walk in the park on a pleasant sunny day.

Take them a hot meal, but do not stay to watch them eat it. Offer to buy them some groceries or to do their dishes or wash a load of laundry. These basic needs often get neglected when we are grieving.

Send cheerful cards, invite them to a movie or over to your house to join mutual friends for dinner. Do not force them to be outgoing or cheerful. Just allow them to silently enjoy your company.

Honor their requests, don’t push your ideas on them, but ask them, “What would you like to do this week?” Do this regularly for the first year after their loss. Be patient and don’t push them. Love them with the love of the Lord.

Prayer:
Father God, knowing what to say to a grieving person is so nerve wracking and our ineptitude is paralyzing. Teach us how to comfort. Give us Your Holy Spirit’s wisdom for how to minister to each new grieving person. Put Your ideas in our mind, inspire our creativity with Your ideas on how to be a special blessing to this grieving friend, relative or church member.

We also ask that You comfort us in our grief. Help us not to wallow in self-pity but to rise and shine with each new day and to seek Your will in each new moment. Help us to realize that You have plans for us that do not include our loved one; and that we still have purpose and meaning for our life in You.

Thought for the Day:
Give a bereaving person the gift of your time and attention.

Condemnation or Conviction

There is a huge difference between condemnation and conviction. A person without Christ in their life might experience both of these; but a child of God is freed from all condemnation (Romans 8:1).

Satan condemns us, but God’s Spirit convicts us. For instance, when we choose to walk in slavery to the flesh, God convicts us to walk in the Spirit instead (Galatians 5:15-25).

Condemnation brings shame, hopelessness and discouragement with it. Yet, conviction brings relief, and gives us the opportunity to decide not to sin and to please God instead (James 4:7).

Satan will crush us with his shameful condemnation and attempt to cripple our soul in order to prevent us from ever serving God again. If we flee temptation, we also flee condemnation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Satan is the accuser of God’s children and he will attempt to belittle us, telling us that we are not enough, will never amount to anything and that we are a hopeless failure.

However, these accusations are contrary to God’s truth about us. God says that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). We have victory in all things through Christ in us (1 Corinthians 15:57)

As we submit to God and resist the devil, he has to flee from us (James 4:7-8). Nothing can ever separate us from the multi-dimensional love of God (Romans 8:35-39).

Prayer:
Father God, when Satan attempts to defeat us, remind us that You already gave us the victory through Christ in us (Galatians 2:20). Thank You for being so willing to forgive our departure from Your will for our life (1 John 1:9), and for giving us Your Spirit to help us to walk in Your perfect peace.

Produce in us a Godly sorrow, which pricks our conscience and reminds us not to succumb to Satan’s temptations (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). Prompt us to walk in Your Spirit, filled with His fruit, so that we will not fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:15-25).

Thought for the Day:
The blood of Christ frees us from the penchant to sin, as well as from the condemnation of the devil. – Revelation 1:5; Romans 8:1

God’s Comfort through Grief

The death of an intimate relative is one of the most challenging, disturbing, overwhelming, and painful experiences we may ever survive. Grief shakes our core foundations and creates devastating and sometimes unrelenting loss and chaos in our life.

For a period of time, depression dampens all of our activities and feelings, and it interrupts our normal schedule. Grief has even been known to hasten the death of the surviving partner or parent.

Our life may never totally recover after the loss of a loved one. At best, life will take a new course, which brings change and fear of the unknown. This change is often one we would never select if we had a choice.

Grief may even accompany the loss of a cherished personal possession, a pet, or even financial security or a part of our body. Aging also produces aspects of grief as we experience the loss of friends, health, physical appearance, energy, family support and memory.

Divorce is another loss from which some people never recover. It causes traumatic grief in most cases, which is similar to or even more distressing than a death, because our mate chooses to leave us.

Each person alive experiences grief in some form or other in their lifetime. Even minor losses will trigger heartache. Grief from former losses will accumulate over the years and add to the sorrow we feel in current losses.

That is why it is important to allow our self the time and opportunity to grieve until we feel closure from any loss as it arises. Ignoring or suppressing grief compounds this devastating emotion in our soul.

Taking our grief to God allows us to heal more completely than if we try to heal on our own. His solace provides peace and joy, which surpasses human reasoning and emotion. We feel His presence within us, filling us and lifting us up.

Prayer:
Father God, we thank You for walking with us through the valleys of grief we experience throughout our lifetime. Your comfort transcends any mantras we utter or human counsel we receive during these times of loss.

We come to You and Your Word and find our wellbeing through Your life-giving truth and wisdom. We know we will see our saved loved ones again, but please fill their void in our life with more of Your presence than we ever felt before now.

Thought for the Day:
God brings physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual healing to us in every instance of grief we experience during our lifetime.

Hope in God

Jesus carried our sins and our sorrows to the cross (Isaiah 53:4). He lifts up everyone who falls and carries those who are exhausted (Psalm 145:14). He heals our broken heart and He binds up our wounds (Psalm 147:3). Everything is possible once we start to believe in God’s faithfulness (Mark 9:23). He rescues godly people from trials, because we put our hope in Him (2 Peter 2:9; Psalm 39:7).

God will give us grace only for today, because tomorrow’s grace will not come until tomorrow. As long as we are alive, we still have hope in His promises (Ecclesiastes 9:4; 2 Peter 1:4). When we put our expectation in God rather than in our self, people or karma, our soul is no longer depressed or worried (Psalm 43:5). We find rest in God alone, because our only real hope comes from him (Psalm 62:5).

God is our helper and we have no reason to live in fear. All we have to do is to cry out to the Lord and to pray to Him for help. He always hears us, because our cries reach His ears (Psalm 18:8). When trouble surrounds us on every side, He always gives us a way out. Even though life is hard at times, He strengthens us, helps us and holds us up with His strong right hand (Isaiah 41:10; 2 Corinthians 4:8).

Total surrender to God is the key to making sense of your circumstances. Surrendering our family and our future to God, walking away from the worries and leaving it all in His hands is the only thing that will keep us sane. Walking in obedience to His Spirit moment by moment through the day will bring us closer to intimacy with God than anything else we could ever do.

Prayer:
Father God, teach us that full surrender of our life to You is the safest place to live. When we get our eyes off our self and onto You, You keep us in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). You lead us one step at a time (Matthew 6:31-34). Remind us not to look at tomorrow, but to look at today and to obey Your Spirit, even if we do not like what is happening and we do not want to obey.

Thought for the Day:
The Lord remains close to the desolate and He saves those who are trampled by life’s circumstances. – Psalm 34:18