Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Where Do You Look for Help When It Seems God Isn't Paying Attention?

Psalm 121:4:

Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep

If you've ever had a difficult day, or week, or month, or year; you know that it can't be hard to find comfort in words like Psalm 121:1-2. These verses were made famous by the Von Trapp family, "I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

You might read those verses and say, "Great. But I don't have any hills to look up to, and I don't feel like anyone is coming to help." We can't all be Maria. We don't all stumble into the perfect family and the perfect solution for our problems.


So, what do you do? How do you find hope, when all you see in front of you is despair?

This morning I stumbled out of verses 1 and 2, sidestepped verse 3 and then got tackled by verse 4.

Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep
Look! Israel's protector does not sleep or slumber!
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Get it?

This was written thousands of years ago. It was written during a pretty good time in Israel's history. They had warrior-kings who were expanding their kingdoms. They were united. They were free.

Then stuff happened.

A civil war divided the kingdom forever.
Evil kings oppressed and enslaved the people.
Conquering hoards from far away lands leveled cities and carried away captives
The holy city and the temple were destroyed
The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Ptolemies, the Syrians and the Romans ruled Israel. Each, more oppressive than the other.
The Romans wiped the nation from the earth.
For nearly 2000 years, Israel had no home.
The Muslims and the Turks and the Crusaders plundered the land.
The Holocaust.

and still...  Israel survives.

Over the course of time, many people groups have been wiped from the earth. No nation, no ethnic group, no people should ever survive what Israel has been through.

But he who is watching over Israel never closes His eyes.

God watches over His people. We may not always get the rescue we expect, when we expect it. We may not always receive the precise solution for which we pray. We may not even feel like looking to the hills for help...

But God is watching. He does not sleep.

He who watches over Israel, who has watched over Israel, is also watching you.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Do You Have A Talking Problem?

I recently read somewhere that if you can't go an entire day without saying something negative about another person, then you have a problem.

Imagine someone says, "I like to drink, but I don't have a drinking problem."
You might ask, "How often do you drink?"
If they respond that they cannot go a day without drinking, you might suggest that they do indeed have a drinking problem.

Consider the person who says they never go a day without getting angry at least once. Would you recommend anger management?

So then...

If a day never passes in which you don't say at least one negative thing about one other person; do you have a "negative speech" problem?

I do.

Remember what James said. "And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself." (James 3:6)



He also said, "For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way." (James 3:2)

I like to think of myself as being somewhat self-disciplined. I like to think I avoid addictive practices and behaviors that will control me. So, even though a lot is percolating in my mind regarding events of the past few days... Tonight, I'm going to be slow to speak.