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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Lane in New Jersey

"Reconciling Life's Realities With God's Promises"

Message summary: During a time of loss or hardship we can have a hard time reconciling life's realities with God's promises.

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“Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name" (Matthew 24:9). "About that time King Herod cruelly attacked some who belonged to the church, and he killed James, John’s brother, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the days of Unleavened Bread. After the arrest, he put him in prison and assigned four squads of four soldiers each to guard him,
intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church" (Acts 12:1,2).

In our present form of chaplaincy ministry we meet many people and at any given time always have those who are going through something. We communicate not only face to face but also by phone, email and texts and in other settings. We are starting a new company today that uses video for offsite workers so that will be new to us.

Last week we spoke to a lady whose mother was in critical condition in a local hospital and this week received word that she had died. We spoke to a man who recently lost his father and now bears a burden for his mom. A young man texted me who is going through a hard time. Another friend's wife has been enduring a long illness. Another has a child with addictions. Some matters are acute, others chronic and ongoing. But all of them are hurting in one way or another and to some degree.

Dr. Michael Rogers is the recently retired pastor of our local conservative Westminster Presbyterian Church whom we have enjoyed listening to for many years on the local Christian radio station, WDAC. In his sermon that aired last Sunday he spoke of being a young minister and the frustration he felt thinking those whose loved one died expected him to have all the answers during a time of trial and sorrow. He learned instead that people were comforted simply by his presence and participation in their loss.

Yesterday's lesson was on the promisekeeping God.
But especially during a time of loss or hardship we can have a hard time reconciling life's realities with God's promises. This in our view does not diminish as life progresses but can be especially faith shaking when you are younger.

God's promises are for not only positive things in life but for experiences we often associate as negative as well. For instance we probably don't normally consider Christ's words in our first daily text as a promise:
“Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name" (Matthew 24:9). But really it is.

These words came painfully true relatively early on in the history of the church with Stephen's stoning and later James' death by sword (likely beheading) in our second daily text. This was the James in the "Peter, James and John" inner circle of Christ's disciples. What a stunning reality must have hit the early believers, Christ's words were coming true. This would be the experience of many of the early disciples and scores more throughout the church age right up to our present time.

After James' death Peter was arrested. It seems the phrase, "
intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover" meant he would face the same ending (on this side) as James. "But prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church" and Peter was miraculously delivered. But surely they had also prayed for James and Peter later died as a martyr as well.

Pain and sorrow are due to many reasons apart from persecution. Jesus made a remarkable promise in John 16:33 that many of us have memorized, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” We believe the suffering (tribulation) mentioned includes the full gamut of suffering.

We rightly speak of "claiming a promise" in regard to protection, deliverance, healing, and provision but ultimately our lives are in the great Promisekeeper's hands. In the Bible times and ever since some are delivered out of their oppressor's hands, others are taken into God's hands. Some are healed, others make their transition to the next life as we all will eventually. Some like Lazarus were even resurrected but eventually made the transition (died).

Here's a promise to end this message with: "For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:38,39).

Be encouraged and today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank you for all Your promises. There are those I would like to claim, there are others I would rather not think about such as the straightforward, statement by Jesus,
You will have suffering in this world. Help me to trust you when I don't understand or may even be disappointed in an outcome that didn't go like I had desired or I had prayed for. Help me to live with the big picture that I indeed truly know that You cause all things to work together for good to those who love You, to those who are called according to Your purpose. Amen

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Some music especially for those who are reconciling life's realities with God's promises:

"Well Done"  Video  The Afters

"BlessingsVideo  Laura Story with intro by Joni Eareckson Tada  Both of these women have known great suffering.

"I Will Fear No More"  Video  The Afters

"Yes, I Will"  Video  Vertical Worship 

"Living Hope"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir with Phil Wickham

"Stand"  Video  Booth Brothers

"Everybody's Going Through Something"  Video  Karen Peck & New River

"Psalm 34"  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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