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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Decorative flower vase photo
Yesterday I saw this interesting vase in a hotel lobby

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"Our Steadfast Refuge"

"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7)

Last night we gathered in the sanctuary and had special prayer for a young man in our church who is having surgery today for a brain tumor. Prior to the anointing service our friend Mike led out in the hymn, To God Be the Glory and then implored us to "lean hard on God." I like that expression and tucked it into my heart. I trust that Jared's family is leaning hard on God today.

Following Pastor's anointing of oil and the many prayers offered up by his supporters Jared sat with his parents on the front row. A line formed as Jared's friends and family  gave him a
personal word of encouragement and reassurance of their ongoing prayers. Many tears were shed and hugs exchanged.  He and his family surely gained inner strength from knowing others are also bearing their burden.  Just over a week ago Jared's  life was routine with one day simply blending into another before the tumor was discovered.

Today we share a word of hope and encouragement from one of the most obscure Old Testament prophets.  Nahum served and spoke for God during very troubling times as Assyria was tormenting the people of God.  This oppression caused a troubling yet frequently asked question.  How could God allow such inhumanity to go unanswered?

In different ways we may ask the same question today, particularly during "times of trouble".  We again consider our Christian brothers and sisters throughout many parts of the world who are being persecuted or are otherwise suffering.  On a personal level you may be in the heat of a difficult trial and you may wonder, "Where is God when I hurt?" 

The prophet Nahum speaks through the Holy Scriptures, the inspired and inerrant Word of God, with a great message for us and our brethren around the world. 

1) "The Lord is good!"  This attribute is insufficiently pondered today.  It is so well assumed that it's taken for granted by most.  But what if the Supreme Being of the universe was not good?  That's a thought that I find hard to even comprehend and have no desire to ponder in depth of just how dreadful life would be if it were true. But Psalm 100:5 reminds us, "For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."

2) He's "a refuge in times of trouble."  The Hebrew word for refuge conveys a fortified place; a defense: force, fortress, rock, strength.  What a great assurance during the inevitable times of trouble!  Jesus is the rock in a weary land.  He is an anchor in the times of storm.  "The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil" (Proverbs 10:29).

3) "He cares for those who trust in Him."  Here's our part; we must trust.  When we are in the middle of a tunnel, with darkness behind and darkness before us, God still calls us to trust, to lean hard on Him.  When we're in the valley of deepest despair we must trust.  When we're on the spiritual mountain we still must trust!  A very familiar New Testament verse many have memorized instructs the believer not to carry the heavy burdens of life in their own strength but to "cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7).  Our Lord Jesus is the great Burden Bearer.

Finally today, hear the word of the Psalmist, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8).  Today let us lean hard on our steadfast refuge!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we want to trust You at all times – in the good times and in troubled times.  Thank You for Your promise that You will not let us drown when we pass through the deep waters. We will not be burned nor will the flames hurt us when we walk through the raging fires that seek to engulf us.  We don't have to be afraid because You have saved us and called us by name.  You are truly our Refuge and we pour out our hearts out to You for all that we have need of.   May our faith increase and our devotion deepen as we lean hard on You.  Amen.

See Isaiah 43:1,2

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play)

God's Man, a song for Jared Forry  Written by Mike Book. A couple of days ago Mike called me and told me he felt God had impressed a song on his heart especially for Jared. However it's really a good song for all men!

Life can be so good sometimes, and it can get real hard.
We mess around with games and rhymes, tossin' balls in the yard.
We take for granted family and friends, thinking life will just go on,
Not seeing what's around the bend; forgetting who paints the dawn.

But when it all comes down to living faith,
to trusting God's almighty hand,
I want to stand up and be counted as God's man – God's man.

It's easy to talk of faith, when life's on cruise control.
But I want a faith based on the Rock, that doesn't ever roll.
God promises to guide me through the storms of life so rough.
His power, peace and grace will stead me; to me He's enough.

But when it all comes down to living faith,
to trusting God's almighty hand,
I want to stand up and be counted as God's man – God's man.

I will be God's man, through calm, rain, fire and wind.
No matter what may come, my Savior's peace will carry me.
Through doubts and raging storms, Jesus, be my source of strength.
Help me to be God's man, faithfully be God's man.

But when it all comes down to living faith,
to trusting God's almighty hand,
I want to stand up and be counted as God's man – God's man.

"My Life Is In Your Hands"  We enjoy this song by the Brooklyn Tabernacle and today we dedicate it to Jared and all our brethren going through hard trials.

In today's message we referred to the goodness of God which is a divine attribute.  The singular best treatment of the topic of the goodness of God that I ever recall reading is the brief chapter in A.W. Pink's book "The Attributes of God".  This entire book is available for reading online. The chapter on the goodness of God is here. You can also purchase the book by visiting the following link.

67723: The Attributes of God, repackaged edition
The Attributes of God  By Arthur W. Pink / Baker
A classic bestseller built on a timeless premise: Failure to understand God's character leads to a skewed perception of the Divine---one that is too often cast in our own image. Seeking to remedy this, Pink outlines 17 key characteristics of the Almighty, including his sovereignty, immutability, patience, love, and faithfulness.

As I considered the above book I also recall another formative book on this topic I read while in Bible College preparing for ministry that I highly recommend.

1650X: Knowing God: 20th Anniversary EditionKnowing God  By J.I. Packer / Inter-varsity Press
J. I. Packer's Knowing God has become a classic of the Christian faith. Why? While it gives us information about God with clarity and grace, it does much more---it aids us in actually knowing him, in building our relationship with him, and helps draw us closer to him in love and worship.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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