April 18, 2006
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' (John 20:19)
My Tuesday devotionals seem to have a common theme lately and at first that bothered me. However, the more I think about it ... I think it's okay. I remembered back to why I first started to write "Tuesday's" and my current theme is still in line with that reason. The overriding purpose for which I started writing was to bring hope to the hurting. I was and still am moved in my spirit by those who are struggling on life's journey and just don't know how to cope. What bothered me even more was that I saw this among so many of my Christian brothers and sisters. Those who supposedly have all the Hope in the world. Those whose faith should be strong. Those who profess Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ...the HOPE of glory! They seemed to have lost sight of Him and honestly weren't reacting any differently in their struggles than the non-Christians that I know. So here I am again today, having found more treasures of hope in God's Word and if you'll allow me, I'll once again attempt to bring that hope to the hurting.
The disciples had almost been arrested with Jesus. One had outright denied that he knew Him and lived with his own shame and regret. Along with so many others they thought that Jesus "was the One who was going to redeem Israel", that is, to be the Messiah and bring in the kingdom. (Luke 24:21) They were all afraid and had scattered when Jesus was arrested. They remained under the fear of death at the hands of the Jewish authorities, so they met in secret, at night, with fear, behind locked doors. Talk about having no hope! I do have to say that the one thing that they did right was to stay together. My pastor preached on the importance of being in community when all is falling apart. We absolutely need each other to survive. We need other Christ followers who can listen and not necessarily give advice, but point us back to Christ when our struggles cause us to lose sight of Him. Brothers and sisters who are not afraid to speak Truth to their hurting friends. No platitudes, no patronizing, just the unadulterated Word of God spoken for the purpose of re-focusing their eyes on Jesus...the HOPE of glory! Find a friend...be a friend, with Christ Jesus as the tie that binds you together.
How many times had Jesus told them that things would happen this way? How many times did He say that He would be betrayed into the hands of men and have to die? He told them He had to go away. He told them that darkness would reign for a time. But He also told them that He was going to prepare a place for them. He told them He'd never leave them alone. He told them that He would come to them and not leave them as orphans. He gave them instruction on how they were to live, what they would have to say and so much more. But they seemed to have forgotten it all. How like us, isn't it? Trouble swoops in like a flood and we forget all the Word that we know. We can sure quote those verses in the good times. Or to other people. But when our own world is falling apart, our minds would rather listen to the lies of the devil than recall the words of the Victor over death, hell and the grave. Some of us may also not even know enough of God's Word to recall it when the storm winds blow. We neglect the study of God's word and have nothing to hold onto in the bad times. We search for answers everywhere and from every one who will listen instead of running to our Bible and searching out the Truth of God's love, faithfulness, protection, provision, mercy and grace. Peace in your storm is found in nothing and no one else but Jesus! When He appeared to His disciples in that locked room His first words to them were, "Salom" in Hebrew. "Peace be with you!" Once when He appeared to them while they were eating He rebuked them quite harshly for their unbelief and hardness of heart. They had lost their ability to believe! They lost their peace. That's because they took their eyes off of Jesus and strayed from the remembrance of what He had told them. Jesus will speak peace to your storm. He'll reveal Himself and who He is and what He is like in His Word. He'll instruct you. He'll guide you. I have found in my years as a Christian that there is not one issue, problem or situation that is not addressed in God's word. And if you follow His instruction, you'll never go wrong.
The disciples were so afraid. Fear comes from the devil. The Bible tells us that "God has not given us a spirit of fear , but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) If you are afraid today, it's not from God...it's straight from the pits of hell. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. And the devil is a liar. Believe God and His Word. Resist the devil and he will flee. (James 4:7b) God has given you the power of the Holy Spirit to live with you and in you. You have Power!! You have the same power that God exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated him at His right hand (Ephesians 1:20). You have THE SAME POWER working in you! You are not a slave to fear (Romans 8:15). You are a son or daughter of your Abba Father, God! Ask yourself..."whose kid am I?" You are a child of the King! And the King knows how to care for those who belong to Him.
I speak to you right now my friend, from my heart and from what I know to be true. Trust God. Know His word. It is life to you. It's the instruction manual for life. If you don't know God's word, you don't know His mind or what He is like. You have nothing to fall back on in times of trouble. Make time each day to read and study the Bible. No day is too busy for time spent with God. We make time for everything else, don't we? God just wants some time with you to allow you to sit in His presence and for Him to speak to you through His word. Read and study in the good times and the bad. Don't just run to God when times get tough. He wants you every single day. He wants to reveal Himself and all that He is to you...today and everyday. He can be trusted. No human being can be totally trusted. People will inevitably always let us down, even those closest to you. I promise you that! Nothing on earth is as sure as Jesus. Isaiah calls Him "a nail in a sure place" (Isaiah 22: 23). The writer of Hebrews calls Him "an anchor for the soul" (Hebrews 6:19). He is our hope..our only hope in those in-between places in life when it seems that all hope is gone. Between the vision and desires of your heart that seem to have died and the risen Savior full of love, compassion and promise for your here and now and your eternity, there is still hope. He is firm and steadfast..immovable. He is who He is no matter where we are. He never changes. He's always the same. Sure, fixed, steady. My Rock, my Refuge, my Fortress, my Deliverer!
He loves you so much. He really does. You are the apple of His eye. He delights in you. You are engraved on the palms of His hands. He will never hurt you. If you're in that in-between place right now, and you can't see His hand, my friend....trust His heart!