When Tragedy Strikes

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land'” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT).
 Notice what God is telling us. He does not say that only some of the plans He has for us are for good, but that all the plans that He has for us are for good, and not for disaster. How can this be, when the world is so full of tragedy, and despair tugs at our heart strings on a regular basis?
Notice again that God says,In those days when you pray, I will listen.”  When God spoke these words through His prophet, Jeremiah, it was at the beginning of the seventy years of captivity of the Israelites in Babylon. God instructed his people to “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce.  Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!  And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:4-7 NLT).
The people had lost everything they had, their possessions, their homes, many lost their lives. Their capital city and the Temple that King Solomon had built were destroyed. But even in the face of grief and exile, God cautioned His people not to despair and dwindle away. He told them thatIn those days,” difficult days of loneliness and exile, all of God’s plans were to give them hope and a future, and that if they would seek Him with their whole hearts, He would listen and comfort them. That ultimately, God would restore all that their enemies had taken.
God said: Don’t stop living! Marry and have children, enjoy your grandchildren! Build homes! Nourish your bodies! Live your lives, and pray for peace, even in the midst of unforseen circumstances. Even if you find yourselves in an unknown country. Pray, and keep praying. Don’t dwindle away! I am with you! Open your heart and look for Me and you will find Me!
God called out to His people through his prophet. He did not want them to despair, but to remember that His plans were to give them hope and a future, and that He had not forgotten His plans or His people.
God sends out the same call to us in these days. When the evening news is full of tragedy and strife, do not despair! God is with you!
When disaster strikes from out of nowhere, remember, God has a plan. And He knows exactly how you fit into his plan. His plan is not to harm you, but to bring good to you, and to prosper you for your blessing and His glory.
If you are suffering now, God knows. If you are afraid, God knows. If you are grieving, God knows. He is with you, and above all, He knows the plans that He has for you. He will not abandon you.
God has given us simple instructions to follow when we are certain that all is lost. We are His people. We are in exile, strangers and pilgrims on this earth, longing for our eternal home. While we are here, we are subject to all the trials of the natural world. But God does not leave us alone. He comforts us. He hears us when we call out to Him. We find Him when we seek Him with our whole hearts.
And so, Beloved, pray. Seek God with your whole heart, especially when your heart is full of sorrow. He will be found by you. He will comfort you. He wants you to live your life and not to fade away. His promise to us is that in Him we have hope, and we have a future.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (Romans 12:12 NLT).
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18-20 NIV).

Hannah’s Prayer

colored pencil on paper, a profile study

Hannah was the mother of the prophet, Samuel, who prayed this beautifully prophetic prayer as she dedicated him as her firstborn for the service to Adonai after He healed her from barrenness because of her faithfulness.
Then Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in Adonai, my horn is lifted high in Adonai. I smile wide over my enemies, for I rejoice in your salvation. (v. 1), (the Hebrew word for salvation is Yeshua)
In Hannah’s life, personally, even though she was loved by her husband, she was mocked for being childless by her husband’s other wife who had children. In her community, the people were plagued by false religious leaders and enemies of God, Phineas and Hophni, who used their position as sons of the high priest to misrepresent God, thus causing unbelief and hopelessness. Hannah remained faithful to the Lord and was blessed.
There is none Holy as Adonai, for there is none besides You, nor is there any Rock like our God. (v. 2)
Yes! The Solid Rock. All other ground is sinking sand.
Boast no more so proudly– insolence comes out of your mouth. For Adonai is the all knowing God, and by Him deeds are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the stumbling are girded with strength. (v. 3-4)
Pride comes to nothing before Him. We can only boast and become strong in His work.
Those full hire themselves for bread, but those starving hunger no more. Even the barren gives birth to seven, but she with many sons languishes. (v. 5)
Our blessings and fruitfulness (in anything) depend on Him alone.
Adonai causes death and makes alive, He brings down to Sheol and raises up. (v. 6)
He has eternity in His hands. The Lord eventually put Phineas and Hophni to death because they refused to repent, but not without warning. Samuel gave the prophetic message.
Adonai makes poor and rich, He brings low and also lifts up. (v, 7)
He is our provider. He humbles and encourages.
He raises the helpless from the dust. He lifts the needy from the dunghill, to make them sit with nobles, granting them a seat of honor. For the earth’s pillars are Adonai’s, and He has set the world on them. (v. 8)
He can raise up leaders from wherever He chooses.
He guards the steps of His godly ones, but the wicked are silences in darkness. For one does not prevail by might. Those who oppose Adonai will be shattered. He thunders against them in Heaven. He judges the ends of the earth. (v. 9-10a)
He looks after His own and the power of the wicked comes to nothing in the end. Eli, the high priest and father of the two wicked scoundrels was also put to death by Adonai because he never rebuked his sons harshly enough. Then God made Samuel the high priest even though he was not in the line of succession.
He gives strength to His king, exalting the horn of His anointed one.” ~1 Samuel 2:1-10
Samuel went on to anoint David as  the first king of the tribe of Judah over Israel. From this lineage would eventually come Yeshua/Jesus. Yeshua, the anointed one and long promised Messiah is The King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!!  Hallelujah!!!

 

 

 

Pray for Pittsburgh

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:1-7 NIV).

Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this morning. We stand together in prayer for all those who have been crushed in spirit by tragedy, in Pennsylvania and everywhere in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Solid Rock

Here is an excerpt about the life of Edward Mote, the author of the treasured hymn, The Solid Rock (1834), from one of my favorite books, Then Sings My Soul, 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories, by Robert J. Morgan along with the lyrics and a music video:

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. ~1 Corinthians 3:11
Edward Mote was born into poverty on January 1, 1797, in London. His parents, innkeepers, wouldn't allow a Bible in their house, but somehow Edward heard the gospel as a teenager and came to Christ. He eventually became a skilled carpenter and the owner of his own cabinet shop.
"One morning", he recalled, "it came into my mind as I went to labor to write a hymn on the 'Gracious Experience of a Christian.' As I went to Holborn I had the Chorus: On Christ the solid Rock I stand / All other ground is sinking sand. In the day I had four verses complete, and wrote them off."
"On the Sabbath following, I met brother King... who informed me that his wife was very ill, and asked me to call and see her. I had an early tea and called afterwards. He said that it was his usual custom to sing a hymn, read a portion, and engage in prayer before he went to meeting. He looked for his hymnbook but could find it nowhere. I said, 'I have some verses in my pocket; if he liked, we would sing them.' We did and his wife enjoyed them so much that after the service he asked me, as a favor, to leave a copy of them for his wife."
"I went home, and by the fireside composed the last two verses, wrote the whole off, and took them to sister King... As these verses so met the dying woman's case, my attention to them was the more arrested, and I had a thousand printed for distribution."
In 1852, Edward, 55, gave up his carpentry to pastor the Baptist Church in Horsham, Sussex, where he ministered 21 years. He resigned in 1873, in failing health, saying, "I think I am going to Heaven; yea, I am nearing port. The truths I have been preaching, I am now living upon. Ah! The precious blood." He passed away at age 77.
The Solid Rock
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
Chorus: On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.
Chorus: On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.
Chorus: On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.
When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh may I then in Him be found! Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne!
Chorus: On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.
Solid Rock performed by Magen Thurman:

https://youtu.be/Rayr0MwKwo8

 

 

 

Hurricane Relief: How to Help

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)

Please keep the residents of Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North and South Carolina who have been devastated by hurricanes Michael and Florence in your prayers.

How to donate or volunteer:

www.weather.com/safety/hurricane/news/2018-10-11-help-hurricane-michael-victims-donations

www.samaritanspurse.org

www.redcross.org

www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/2018-hurricane-florence-facts

Alone in a Crowd

Alone in a Crowd, acrylic on canvas

Oxymoron - a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.
"Alone in a Crowd" is an oxymoron, and yet we can relate to it. I take a lot of photographs because I like to paint from my own references. I was on a trip in Charleston, SC  with my mom and my daughter a good many years ago. We had taken a carriage ride through the city and were on the way back to our car when we happened upon a group of young girls on a birthday party excursion. The apparent "birthday girl" was for some undetermined reason very distraught. But the scene was so cute and colorful that I could not resist taking a couple of pictures.
Later I realized that I had captured the little girl in all of her misery in one of my photos and it so resonated with me that I had to make a painting of it. This poor child was probably exhausted from the events of the day and maybe a bit disappointed that her expectations had not properly played out. And no one else seems to "get it". We have all been there, haven't we?
Suzanne recently wrote so beautifully in her article about how we are never alone when we know the love of Jesus Christ, that I could not possibly say it any better than that. So I thought I would expand on the difference in being alone versus being lonely. If you are an introvert like myself, a crowd, which can consist of not many more than four or five people, can be a most intimidating place especially if they are unfamiliar. And as we all need face to face interaction with people, and I do, I also enjoy spending time alone.
Quiet time is good for prayer, for seeking wisdom and knowledge, for reflection, for praising God, listening to His voice and just plain refreshment. It is how we learn to love God.  We are also commanded to love people and we cannot do that without fellowship where two or more are gathered. We are to love spouses, children, grandchildren, relatives, other believers, friends, acquaintances, neighbors and enemies. Notice the order because we are not even the least bit capable of loving all of these people without first loving our Creator. And remember that love is more of a purposeful action than a feeling. It is a necessary balancing act and it is the key to defeating loneliness.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12   Spend time with the Father each day, fifteen minutes or more (the more, the better) depending on your schedule.  Make it a part of your schedule, it will change the outcome of your day. Take time for restful activity like a hobby, reading a good book, researching and learning, or taking a walk. I often talk to the Lord as I do some of these things. Avoid activities that are unproductive unless you just need a nap.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. ~Hebrews 10:25  Spend regular quality time with people: a meal or an activity (work or play) with family or friends (without phone use). Attend and involve yourself in church if you can. If church is too much of a crowd or it just doesn't work for whatever reason, start a weekly (or daily) Bible study with your spouse, a friend or a child. There are many online resources and we regularly share helpful links. And you cannot go wrong just reading and discussing the Word, singing, sharing testimony and praying together.
Behave wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of your time. ~Colossians 4:5  Use discernment in your interaction with strangers, but make an effort for outreach. Offer prayer for any who are sick or in need. Be kind always, and giving and helpful when and where you are able, but more importantly as the Holy Spirit leads you. Look for opportunities to share your faith and testimony. When you intentionally live this way, there is little to no room for loneliness.
Shalom Haverim (Friends)
I Am Not Alone, Kari Jobe:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjX7cHzvfndAhWRuFMKHWDbAloQtwIwC3oECAgQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOw4OfW4DP9s&usg=AOvVaw0W81FZovimHJg03MMgmdch

Turn, Turn, Turn. To Everything There is a Season

Leaf, (watercolor on paper), Wise words to ponder:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Moreover, He has set eternity in their heart—yet without the possibility that humankind can ever discover the work that God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy themselves in their lifetime. Also when anyone eats and drinks, and finds satisfaction in all of his labor, it is the gift of God. I know that everything that God does will endure forever. There is no adding to it or taking from it. God has made it so, that they will revere Him. ~Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjVnuTa_uzdAhVN0VMKHQY4CzIQwqsBMAN6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DpKP4cfU28vM&usg=AOvVaw1rs4WfR2ocI6E81fCT5Gs9