Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Hope Is from God

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Satisfies

Psalm 62:1-8 The Message

A David Psalm

62 1-2 God, the one and only—
    I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
    so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
    breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
    I’m set for life.
3-4 How long will you gang up on me?
    How long will you run with the bullies?
There’s nothing to you, any of you—
    rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters,
Anthills plotting to bring down mountains,
    far gone in make-believe.
You talk a good line,
    but every “blessing” breathes a curse.
5-6 God, the one and only—
    I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
    so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
    breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
    I’m set for life.
7-8 My help and glory are in God
    —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust him absolutely, people;
    lay your lives on the line for him.
    God is a safe place to be.

For Reflection
Live not for the after-life alone.  Live, also, for the here-and-now.  The after-life will follow.  God's hope and our hope lies in our living righteous lives; working for peace and justice, forgiving, showing compassion for all, and having an abiding confidence in the Lord's promise of eternal life.

Pray

for all who work for justice.  Pray for the courage to forgive and to be forgiven. Pray for opportunities to be compassionate and just. Pray for the realization of the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

God Has Called You to Hope

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Satisfies

Ephesians 1:11-19  The Message

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
 
For Reflection
The eternal question;  "Who am I?"  In faith in God we find an answer.  All other responses sound empty.  Only in God do we find sustaining hope.  Hope that drives us to living a fulfilling, satisfying, life; a life lived in confident expectation of tomorrow.

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving to the living God.  Pray for courage and faith in the present and future promise of God.  Pray for the fulfillment of the promise of the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Give Strength to Your Servant

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Satisfies

Psalm 86:11-17  The Message

11-17 Train me, God, to walk straight;
    then I’ll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
    then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
    I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
You’ve always been great toward me—what love!
    You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads!
    A gang of thugs is after me—
    and they don’t care a thing about you.
But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
    not easily angered, immense in love,
    and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness,
    give your servant the strength to go on,
    save your dear, dear child!
Make a show of how much you love me
    so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully
    put me back on my feet.
 
For Reflection

You have been blessed with unexpected good times.  Remember those times.  Think on the despair that those times evoked.  Understand the unexpected blessing.

Pray
Use the passage as a prayer thanking God for God's compassion, love, and help.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Wait for You, O Lord

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Satisfies

Psalm 38:9-16  The Message

9-16 Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight,
    my groans an old story to you.
My heart’s about to break;
    I’m a burned-out case.
Cataracts blind me to God and good;
    old friends avoid me like the plague.
My cousins never visit,
    my neighbors stab me in the back.
My competitors blacken my name,
    devoutly they pray for my ruin.
But I’m deaf and mute to it all,
    ears shut, mouth shut.
I don’t hear a word they say,
    don’t speak a word in response.
What I do, God, is wait for you,
    wait for my Lord, my God—you will answer!
I wait and pray so they won’t laugh me off,
    won’t smugly strut off when I stumble.
 
For Reflection

The last four lines of this passage express a profound hope.  Hope is not a wishful expectation.  Hope is not a last ditch, hail Mary, nothing to lose, bet on the end of troubled times.

Hope is a deep seated conviction that God will make all things right, that God will protect us, that God will never forsake us, that God has faith and hope in us.  Hope is the foundation of expecting good even when good takes its time to arrive.  Hope permits patience.

Pray
for sustaining hope.  Pray for the hopeless so that they may find hope.

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.