God Laughs

Mt SinaiReDiscovered Word 

(Psalm 2)

God laughs as they plan, as the nations and their kings plot destruction against His people. He laughs at the evil men who plan to destroy the people of the Cross, who plan to reduce God’s kingdom to rubble.

God laughs from His throne, but not because their violence is funny. He laughs because no man can overthrow his own Creator. No nation can destroy the One who spoke the very earth from nothing. Like a kingdom of ants trying to defeat a pride of lions, evil men bite and sting and threaten, but to no avail.

The people of God will prevail, because God cannot lose. Because the day is coming, the day is coming so quickly, when the enthroned and holy Maker of the earth will no longer countenance violence against His people. No more will the nations and kings and terrorists of the world line up God’s people for execution and imprisonment and destruction.

From the very start, violent men and women have launched their little wars, determined to wipe out the authority and power of the One who made them, determined to exterminate anybody who dares proclaim that One God rules the cosmos.

But God laughs, and God’s laughter is only the prelude to His powerful justice. 

Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and He will terrify them with fury.

“I have established my king on my mountain and no man can overthrow Him. You kings and wicked nations, heed My warning. You kings and wicked nations, bow before my Son. Bend like a reed, or you’ll break like a vase.”

God laughs, but the day approaches when His laughing will cease and His judgment will begin. 

God’s people have no need to resort to violence. Instead they bathe their brothers and sisters in prayer, knowing that the King of the Earth is their One Protector. They know how He will vindicate the persecuted and put a stop to all those who seek their destruction. The day approaches fast, the day approaches so fast, when God will destroy rebellion forever and set up His kingdom, a kingdom that will never fail.

The holy mountain of God will shine with the glory of the One who died and rose again. No more will the innocent be threatened by death. Death will be dead forever. Violent plans will no longer succeed. The kingdoms of the earth, the plotters and schemers who think they can wipe out what God has built, they will all pass away.

The people who stand in the glory of Christ’s resurrection will live forever, basking in His glory and mercy and love. And the dead in Christ will rise, never again to die. Never again will wicked men of violence come anywhere near God’s people.

God laughs because His plans will prevail. He never worries, because He always wins.

And yet God waits for even violent men to turn and find His mercy. He knows that grace is stronger than violence, and love is stronger than fear. He knows that no kingdom of man can ever prevail against His power and love, against the powerful love of God.

All who stand against Him are destined to fall. All who fall before Him are destined to stand. And those who stand in Him will laugh for joy when they see His perfect plan unfold.

A plan for no more fear. A plan for no more death. A plan of life that never ends for the people who bear His name.

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Keeping Up Appearances

Julius_Kronberg_David_och_Saul_1885

ReDiscovered Word 18

(1 and 2 Samuel)

Both kings were handsome, but the resemblance ended there. 

Saul, the first king, was more handsome than anybody else in Israel. He was tall and good-looking and everything people wanted in a leader.

David, the second king, had nice eyes and red hair, but he wasn’t the first one you’d notice in a crowd. Unlike his brothers, and unlike Saul, he was never described as a tall man.

Saul’s appearance commanded attention, but David’s usually didn’t

The differences between them went much deeper than appearance, though. The trouble with Saul was that his life and his reign were defined by appearances. Saul’s philosophy was encapsulated thousands of years later by a famous camera commercial. “Image is everything.” As long as he looked good, he saw no real reason to do good.

Saul and David both disobeyed God. Both were confronted by angry prophets, and both paid dearly for their sin.

But Saul lost his kingdom, while David kept his. Saul’s line was wiped out, while David’s line was preserved forever. Have you ever wondered why?

The answer is found in how each man responded to God’s discipline.

Saul’s first instinct was to keep up appearances. He cared about how he looked. So he denied and evaded responsibility and refused to admit his sin. And when he finally was forced to acknowledge what he’d done, he was more concerned about being embarrassed in front of the people than he was about making things right with God.

On the other hand, David’s first response was to admit his guilt and acknowledge his sin against God. He made no excuses and offered no evasions. He replied with one sentence: “I have sinned against the Lord.” He was more concerned about being right with God than looking good in front of others.

When God called David “a man after God’s own heart,” he wasn’t saying that David was sinless, or even that David was particularly nice all the time. He’s saying that David’s heart was soft toward God, in tune with the fact that God cares more about who we are than about how we look.

David knew that in order to remove his sin, God had to expose it. He knew that receiving grace required him to admit he needed it. And in the final analysis, that’s what defines everybody who has a heart after God’s own.

You and I, we also need grace. We are sinners. Like Saul and David, we’ve disobeyed God over and over. The only question left is whether we will allow His light to pierce our shadows. Will we let His mercy overcome the lies that separate our hearts from His, or will we try, like Adam and Eve and Saul, to hide from His all-seeing eyes?

David, the man after God’s own heart, knew the truth: Grace arrives just in time for those who need it most. For those who know they need it. For those who ask for it. There’s no keeping up appearances in the presence of God. He loves you too much to let you get away with that.

So will you hide, or will you step into the light of grace and find the forgiveness and love you so desperately need?

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What I Hope You Hear

sw_Listening_sa209430Sometimes you hear me grumble, when your small voice disturbs my rest, when your footsteps cross my room in the dark hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning. You hear me say, “What do you want?” Sometimes in those dark moments, my words sound more like an accusation than a question.

Sometimes you hear me scold, when you’re too loud or too dirty, when your mommy and I are just trying to rest at the end of a long day. You hear me trying to teach you self-control, but instead I model impatience. I easily forget what it’s like to be a child, to be so full of energy that it overflows its boundaries and spills into the living room, leaving behind dirty floors and splitting ears.

Sometimes you hear me worry, when I wonder aloud how you possibly could have eaten all the food we just bought, when I question whether we can ever save enough money for college. I forget that worry serves no purpose, that it only leads me away from trusting God like I always tell you to do. You hear me in those fearful moments when I need to be reminded that, like the birds and the flowers, we have enough for today and that is all we really need.

Sometimes you hear me raise my voice, when I correct you with too little patience or grace. “How could you do that again,” I say, forgetting how many times I repeat the same sins, forgetting how many times God corrects me with patience and grace. I want to treat you like Jesus, but you know I fall short.

I know your little ears listen carefully, and your little heart wonders sometimes about all that you hear.

So I hope you also hear me when I whisper, “I love you,” in those dark hours of the night, after I recover from being awakened. I hope you hear me when I ask if you’re okay, that you hear the concern in my voice, mingled with love for you. You are not a nuisance. You are my flesh and blood and I love your presence.

I hope you hear me laugh, when I tell your mommy about the funny remark you made, when we reflect on our day and can hardly believe that God placed you in our family, with all your energy and joy and love of life. I hope you hear me giggle in those moments when I join the fun and my voice grows as loud as yours, when my own hands and feet get as dirty as yours and together we fill our house with happiness.

I hope you hear me rejoice at the end of a long day when I marvel at God’s mercy, when I thank Him that we had enough food to eat because He gave us our daily bread. I hope you hear me, and believe me, when I say that He will provide, and when I remind you that He has always provided. If we have what we need for today, it is sufficient, so we don’t need to worry.

I hope you hear my love for you, even when I correct you. I want more than anything for you to know your Savior, to reflect all of His goodness and mercy and grace and peace. Sometimes I want it so badly that it’s hard to wait for it patiently. I hope you hear that God loves you so deeply that He gave His Son in order to know you. I want you to know that His love is greater than mine and His grace is a bottomless well that will never run out. And if you drink from it, child, you will never be thirsty.

I know your little ears listen carefully, and I hope you hear what I’m trying so imperfectly to tell you. 

Because what you don’t always hear are my prayers for you, the ones I whisper before you wake up or after you go to sleep or while I watch you playing. I pray He’ll teach you things I don’t know, guide you to places I can’t lead you, and give you love when nobody else does. I pray He’ll teach you character when mine fails, and show you grace when I lack it. I pray that you’ll lean hard into that grace, and that His never-ending mercy will be an anchor for your soul.

You can’t always hear me when I pray that you’ll listen carefully to His voice, so you will one day know the breadth and length and height and depth of His love. I pray you will come to know the only One whose love never fails, whose grace never gives up, who never sees you as a nuisance. You are his flesh and blood, and He loves your presence. He wants to draw you near.

Above all things, I hope you hear the Father whisper, “I love you,” in the dark hours of your heart when you wonder if anything at all is true. When you hear Him say those words, child, draw near to Him, take His hand, and listen closely to what He says. Listen with all your might, because those words will light your darkness and that peace will drive out your fear. “I love you and all my words are true.”

Oh, I hope you hear.

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Hope from Barrenness

tear-drop-573486-mReDiscovered Word 17

(1 Samuel 1-2)

Hope was no friend of the barren woman. Hope served only to disappoint, month after month, year after year, as the hoped-for child never appeared. Longing turned to bitterness, and bitterness became hopelessness.

Hope became Hannah’s enemy, and she wept bitterly. She made promises to God and begged Him for mercy. Her emotions were so strong that her priest thought she was drunk. Her pain was so piercing that she couldn’t even speak when she prayed. She poured out her soul to God, hoping against hope, even in the face of hope’s enmity.

She yearned to bring forth life, but her body betrayed her. “Barren” was a terrible word, but accurate. Hannah’s heart dwelt in the desert. Lifeless. Devoid of hope. Barren.

But God brings hope to the hopeless. “He raises the poor from the dust, he lifts the needy from the ash heap.” Out of barrenness God calls forth life. It has been His way since the beginning of the world.

The God who sits enthroned on high heard the prayer of a poor barren woman. He took away her reproach and gave her a son.

She named him Samuel. “God heard.” He listened to her prayer. Her weeping did not escape Him, and He answered.

When God is near, hope is near. Hopelessness, barrenness, and death may have their day, but they cannot prevail forever. 

Out of the ash heap of Hannah’s broken dreams, God brought forth a prophet who would judge the nation. A leader who would anoint and depose kings. He proclaimed hope and life to a nation mired in despair and far from God. He was a living representative of the power of God, this man who sprang from a barren womb.

Hope from barrenness is God’s specialty. He knows what it is like to weep for a lost son. He knows the sting of death and hopelessness, but also He has the power to overturn it. Only He can bring hope from hopelessness, life from death, growth from barrenness.

He hears your cries. He knows your hurt. He is drawing us toward the day when He will restore eternal hope to we who live in the shadow of lifelessness and death.

In His presence, hope will never disappoint. Month after month, day after day, we will dwell in the presence of all-consuming Life. Barrenness will cease forever and Life will drown out all hopelessness. Forever and ever.

“My heart exults in the Lord…because I rejoice in Your salvation.”

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