Friday, October 17, 2014

I Call upon God

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Complains

Psalm 55:12-23  The Message

12-14 This isn’t the neighborhood bully
    mocking me—I could take that.
This isn’t a foreign devil spitting
    invective—I could tune that out.
It’s you! We grew up together!
    You! My best friend!
Those long hours of leisure as we walked
    arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation.
15 Haul my betrayers off alive to hell—let them
    experience the horror, let them
    feel every desolate detail of a damned life.
16-19 I call to God;
    God will help me.
At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh
    deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
My life is well and whole, secure
    in the middle of danger
Even while thousands
    are lined up against me.
God hears it all, and from his judge’s bench
    puts them in their place.
But, set in their ways, they won’t change;
    they pay him no mind.
20-21 And this, my best friend, betrayed his best friends;
    his life betrayed his word.
All my life I’ve been charmed by his speech,
    never dreaming he’d turn on me.
His words, which were music to my ears,
    turned to daggers in my heart.
22-23 Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—
    he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people
    topple into ruin.
But you, God, will throw the others
    into a muddy bog,
Cut the lifespan of assassins
    and traitors in half.
And I trust in you.

For Reflection

Upon whom do you call?  The lottery? Do you hope in your company to sustain you?  Your family? Friends?

They may help when called.  But none are as steadfast as God.  None are as sure.  None are as reliable.  Non are as trustworthy.  None have eternal insight.   None have the power as God to sustain you.

Pray
Praise God, your counselor.  Call upon God for help.  Confess to God you inability to solve problems by your self.  Pray to rely and trust in God.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shelter from the Storm

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Complains

Psalm 55:1-8  The Message

A David Psalm

55 1-3 Open your ears, God, to my prayer;
    don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.
Come close and whisper your answer.
    I really need you.
I shudder at the mean voice,
    quail before the evil eye,
As they pile on the guilt,
    stockpile angry slander.
4-8 My insides are turned inside out;
    specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,
    I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask—
    “wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;
    I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,
    I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change
    from rage and stormy weather.
 
For Reflection

Stop the world, God, I want to get off!  Discouraged?  So was David.  But, remember how God took care of Him.

Look to your stored memories of goodness.  Find hope and comfort in God's good deeds in your life.  look beyond the mean times and ask for God's loving, comforting hand.  God will find you and heal you.
 
Pray
for the healing hands of God to surround and comfort you and all who need God's healing hands.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Hope Is in God

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Complains

Jeremiah 14:14-22  The Message

14 Then God said, “These preachers are liars, and they use my name to cover their lies. I never sent them, I never commanded them, and I don’t talk with them. The sermons they’ve been handing out are sheer illusion, tissues of lies, whistlings in the dark.
15-16 “So this is my verdict on them: All the preachers who preach using my name as their text, preachers I never sent in the first place, preachers who say, ‘War and famine will never come here’—these preachers will die in war and by starvation. And the people to whom they’ve been preaching will end up as corpses, victims of war and starvation, thrown out in the streets of Jerusalem unburied—no funerals for them or their wives or their children! I’ll make sure they get the full brunt of all their evil.
17-18 “And you, Jeremiah, will say this to them:
“‘My eyes pour out tears.
    Day and night, the tears never quit.
My dear, dear people are battered and bruised,
    hopelessly and cruelly wounded.
I walk out into the fields,
    shocked by the killing fields strewn with corpses.
I walk into the city,
    shocked by the sight of starving bodies.
And I watch the preachers and priests
    going about their business as if nothing’s happened!’”
19-22 God, have you said your final No to Judah?
    Can you simply not stand Zion any longer?
If not, why have you treated us like this,
    beaten us nearly to death?
We hoped for peace—
    nothing good came from it;
We looked for healing—
    and got kicked in the stomach.
We admit, O God, how badly we’ve lived,
    and our ancestors, how bad they were.
We’ve sinned, they’ve sinned,
    we’ve all sinned against you!
Your reputation is at stake! Don’t quit on us!
    Don’t walk out and abandon your glorious Temple!
Remember your covenant.
    Don’t break faith with us!
Can the no-gods of the godless nations cause rain?
    Can the sky water the earth by itself?
You’re the one, O God, who does this.
    So you’re the one for whom we wait.
You made it all,
    you do it all.
 
For Reflection

There is still so much "whistling in the dark."  How do you differentiate the "whistlers from the trumpeters of truth?  Look for Justice.  Look for Compassion.  Look for Forgiveness.  Look for Love.  Look for the Eternal rejecting the temporal.
 
Pray
for those who whistle in the dark.  Pray for the wisdom to discern the false from the true preachers of the living God.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why Is My Pain Unending

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Complains

Jeremiah 15:10-21  The Message

10-11 Unlucky mother—that you had me as a son,
    given the unhappy job of indicting the whole country!
I’ve never hurt or harmed a soul,
    and yet everyone is out to get me.
But, God knows, I’ve done everything I could to help them,
    prayed for them and against their enemies.
I’ve always been on their side, trying to stave off disaster.
    God knows how I’ve tried!
12-14 “O Israel, O Judah, what are your chances
    against the iron juggernaut from the north?
In punishment for your sins, I’m giving away
    everything you’ve got, giving it away for nothing.
I’ll make you slaves to your enemies
    in a strange and far-off land.
My anger is blazing and fierce,
    burning in hot judgment against you.”
15-18 You know where I am, God! Remember what I’m doing here!
    Take my side against my detractors.
Don’t stand back while they ruin me.
    Just look at the abuse I’m taking!
When your words showed up, I ate them—
    swallowed them whole. What a feast!
What delight I took in being yours,
    O God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I never joined the party crowd
    in their laughter and their fun.
Led by you, I went off by myself.
    You’d filled me with indignation. Their sin had me seething.
But why, why this chronic pain,
    this ever worsening wound and no healing in sight?
You’re nothing, God, but a mirage,
    a lovely oasis in the distance—and then nothing!
19-21 This is how God answered me:
“Take back those words, and I’ll take you back.
    Then you’ll stand tall before me.
Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining.
    Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me.
Let your words change them.
    Don’t change your words to suit them.
I’ll turn you into a steel wall,
    a thick steel wall, impregnable.
They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you
    because I’m at your side, defending and delivering.”
        God’s Decree.
“I’ll deliver you from the grip of the wicked.
    I’ll get you out of the clutch of the ruthless.”

For Reflection

When have you thought God was nothing?  How many people do you know that think God is nothing?
When times are tough and thoughts of doubt pry their way into your heart, remember Jeremiah's lament and how God answered and be comforted.
Pray
pray revealing your doubts to God.  Ask for forgiveness and repent.  Thank God for your deliverance.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Set A Time to Remember Me

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Complains

Job 14:7-17  The Message

14 1-17 “We’re all adrift in the same boat:
    too few days, too many troubles.
We spring up like wildflowers in the desert and then wilt,
    transient as the shadow of a cloud.
Do you occupy your time with such fragile wisps?
    Why even bother hauling me into court?
There’s nothing much to us to start with;
    how do you expect us to amount to anything?
Mortals have a limited life span.
    You’ve already decided how long we’ll live—
    you set the boundary and no one can cross it.
So why not give us a break? Ease up!
    Even ditchdiggers get occasional days off.
For a tree there is always hope.
    Chop it down and it still has a chance—
    its roots can put out fresh sprouts.
Even if its roots are old and gnarled,
    its stump long dormant,
At the first whiff of water it comes to life,
    buds and grows like a sapling.
But men and women? They die and stay dead.
    They breathe their last, and that’s it.
Like lakes and rivers that have dried up,
    parched reminders of what once was,
So mortals lie down and never get up,
    never wake up again—never.
Why don’t you just bury me alive,
    get me out of the way until your anger cools?
But don’t leave me there!
    Set a date when you’ll see me again.
If we humans die, will we live again? That’s my question.
    All through these difficult days I keep hoping,
    waiting for the final change—for resurrection!
Homesick with longing for the creature you made,
    you’ll call—and I’ll answer!
You’ll watch over every step I take,
    but you won’t keep track of my missteps.
My sins will be stuffed in a sack
    and thrown into the sea—sunk in deep ocean.
 
For Reflection

Job never gives up!  Even in his darkest hours, Job hopes.  Even in his lamentations, Job hopes.  Even when he is ridiculed Job lives hope.  How about you?

Pray
that you will never give up hope.  Pray that you will live your hope as Job lived his.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Love That Endures Forever

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Even So, My Redeemer Lives

1 Chronicles 16:28-36  The Message

28-29 Shout Bravo! to God, families of the peoples,
    in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo!
Shout Bravo! to his famous Name,
    lift high an offering and enter his presence!
Stand resplendent in his robes of holiness!
30-33 God is serious business, take him seriously;
    he’s put the earth in place and it’s not moving.
So let Heaven rejoice, let Earth be jubilant,
    and pass the word among the nations, “God reigns!”
Let Ocean, all teeming with life, bellow,
    let Field and all its creatures shake the rafters;
Then the trees in the forest will add their applause
    to all who are pleased and present before God
    —he’s on his way to set things right!
34-36 Give thanks to God—he is good
    and his love never quits.
Say, “Save us, Savior God,
    round us up and get us out of these godless places,
So we can give thanks to your holy Name,
    and bask in your life of praise.”
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”
 
For Reflection

Your Redeemer LIVES!  Act like it.  Be fearless.  Be joyful.  Be humble. Walk with God in confidence.  Be jubilant. 

IN SHORT, "GET OVER YOURSELF, RELAX.  GOD'S IN CHARGE!"

Pray
SING PRAISES TO THE LIVING GOD!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Heart Is Steadfast

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Even So, My Redeemer Lives

Psalm 57:7-11  The Message

7-8 I’m ready, God, so ready,
    ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
    “Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp! wake up, lute!
    Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”
9-10 I’m thanking you, God, out loud in the streets,
    singing your praises in town and country.
The deeper your love, the higher it goes;
    every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.
11 Soar high in the skies, O God!
    Cover the whole earth with your glory!
 
For Reflection

How real is your faith?  Are you ready to sing a wake-up tune?  Do you thank God every day for your blessings even when the days are not to your liking?  Are you ready to do your part to help God cover the world with compassion, justice and forgiveness?

How willing are you to sacrifice your self  for the glory of God?

Pray
prayers of confession to cleanse your soul.  Pray prayers of thanksgiving for God's opportunities to become righteous.  Pray prayers of intervention so that God will provide you with opportunities to intervene. Pray prayers for wisdom so that God will provide opportunities to become wise.  Pray for silence in the midst of chaos so that you can hear God's whispered call.