VIDEO Dispenser of Hope

But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Jeremiah 20:11

Hospital chaplain Scott Jensen described his turbulent year of bedside ministry during COVID. In the early days of the pandemic, physicians were shocked at the condition of patients, who came into the hospital walking and talking, but within hours were unable to do either. “Those [moments] were excruciating for everybody,” Jensen said. As months passed, the strain of hospital work grew. The question is: Who comforts the comforter and refills the dispensers of hope?

“I’m grateful that the good Lord does,” Jensen said, adding that he regularly felt God’s presence. “He refills my tank.”[1]

In Jeremiah 20, the prophet records being whipped and placed in stocks. After his release, he composed a prayer filled with emotion, doubt, despair, anger, and hope—all rolled into one prayer. His emotions were frenzied, but one thing he knew for sure—the Lord God was with him.

In our loneliness, we can always remember we are never alone. God is with us. He dispenses hope and His presence keeps our tanks full.

True peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.

Alexander MacLaren

[1]Tammy Real-McKeighan, “Nebraska Hospital Chaplain Recalls Painful, Beautiful Moments During Covid-19 Crisis,” Fremont Tribune, April 17, 2021.


24 Jeremiah 20-29 – J Vernon McGee – Thru the Bible

God Knows Your Story

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

As I drove home after lunch with my best friend, I thanked God out loud for her. She knows me and loves me in spite of things I don’t love about myself. She’s one of a small circle of people who accept me as I am—my quirks, habits, and screw-ups. Still, there are parts of my story I resist sharing even with her and others that I love—times where I’ve clearly not been the hero, times I’ve been judgmental or unkind or unloving.

But God does know my whole story. He’s the One I can freely talk to even if I’m reluctant to talk with others.

The familiar words of Psalm 139 describe the intimacy we enjoy with our Sovereign King. He knows us completely! (v. 1). He’s “familiar with all [our] ways” (v. 3). He invites us to come to Him with our confusion, our anxious thoughts, and our struggles with temptation. When we’re willing to yield completely to Him, He reaches out to restore and rewrite the parts of our story that make us sad because we’ve wandered from Him.

God knows us better than anyone else ever can, and still . . . He loves us! When we daily surrender ourselves to Him and seek to know Him more fully, He can change our story for His glory. He’s the Author who’s continuing to write it.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What assurance do you have that God will always love you unconditionally? How can you make yielding to Him a daily practice?

Precious Father, thank You for loving me as Your child despite the times I’ve disappointed You. Help me to yield all of myself to You in full assurance that You’re faithfully walking beside me.

The Value of Our Adversities

James 1:2-4

Are you wasting your troubles? Anytime God allows trials in your life, He has a purpose for them. We often won’t know His specific aim at the time; nevertheless, we should squeeze out every possible ounce of spiritual growth instead of falling into despair and discouragement. With a shift in perspective, the trial that looks as if it might destroy you could become an instrument of blessing.

The most natural response to adversity is to plead with the Lord to remove it. If that doesn’t work, we might be tempted to look for our own way out or blame whoever caused the problem. But no matter where affliction originates, by the time it reaches you, it’s been shaped according to the Father’s good purposes. The question is, Will you cooperate with Him or resist? When you let adversity do its work in you, it becomes an opportunity for growth. 

Although we can’t see all the specifics of God’s plan, we know His goal is to use our hardship for good. So we are wise to let it mature us in the meantime. Even though the experience is painful, rest in the Father’s comforting arms, and trust that it’s all for a greater purpose.

The Spiritual Senses

“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8)

Frequently, Scripture uses our five physical senses in a figurative way to help us comprehend our interaction with the heavenly realm of God’s presence and power.

We can “see,” for example, with spiritual eyes. Paul prayed thus for the believer: “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).

Similarly, we are privileged to hear the voice of the Lord with spiritual ears. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). “A stranger will they not follow,…for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:5).

The sense of touch is the sense of feeling, and God can both touch and be touched. We read, for example, of “a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” (1 Samuel 10:26). Of Jesus Christ, it is said that He is not a remote deity “which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). Even people who never knew Him can perhaps “feel after him, and find him” (Acts 17:27) if they truly desire His great salvation.

We can even become “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15). To the world, the faithful Christian life and testimony can either be “the savour of death unto death” to those who refuse it, or “the savour of life unto life” (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Finally, we are exhorted actually to taste the Lord and see that He is good! His Word will be, according to our needs, either “sincere milk” (1 Peter 2:2), “strong meat” (Hebrews 5:14), or “sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10). HMM

Constantly Abiding

John 15:1-8

WE live in a nervous, high-strung age. Believers live tensely, and churches strain and strive to raise expenses. Those who really are concerned about the deeper Christian life often worry about it and fret, trying to be Christlike!

In such a feverish age it is refreshing to go back to the fifteenth chapter of John and read Jesus’ simple discourse about the vine and the branches. He tells us that He is the Vine, His Father is the Husbandman, and we are the branches. Our duty is not to strain and strive trying to stay in the Vine or to produce fruit: we are simply to abide in Him, keep the fellowship with Him unhindered—with no sin unconfessed, no interest He cannot share. We are to leave all life’s burdens with Him, drawing from Him all wisdom, life and strength. If we thus abide, we are promised certain precious things in His Word.

First, let us say that only through the new birth can we come into true relationship with Him. Others may attempt to attach themselves to Him in other ways, but these are taken away (John 15:2,6). Being born again, we become vitally identified with. Him, “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4)—”members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30).

Our relationship is fixed, but our fellowship with Him depends upon whether we abide in Him as we ought. This abiding is not a tense and strained affair, but an utter dependence upon Him for every need—feeding upon Him, drawing from Him, as the branch from the vine, all our strength and security. This abiding means obedience: “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked” (1 John 2:6). But our greatest obedience is to abide in Him. Abiding is revealed in holy living: “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not” (1 John 3:6). This is not “sinless perfection,” but living above willful and habitual sin.

This abiding is witnessed by the Spirit: “And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us” (1 John 3:24). It is perfected by purging: “Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2). Some believers worry over chastening as though it were a sign of God’s disfavor. But it is the productive life that God prunes and disciplines, that it may be even more fruitful.

Abiding in Him is also the condition of answered prayer: “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). This reminds us of the discourse on the Bread of Life in John 6. When the disciples complained that He was declaring a hard saying, He simplified it by saying: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” So here He makes His abiding in us clearer by saying “if My words abide in you.” We are to feed upon His truth, and if we do, our prayers shall be answered.

This abiding is manifested in fruitfulness: “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (John 15:5). Notice that the fruit-bearing is just the natural consequence of abiding. We fret and worry about results, our good deeds, our behavior (and churches bother about by-products) when our interest should be concentrated upon this focal point: to abide in Him. That is our business; all else is a natural result.

“And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

Prompt Action

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.—Romans 10:17

In Ephesians 6:16, Paul refers to “the shield of faith.” Prayerfully, we must ask ourselves this question: How does faith act as a protective shield? First of all, we must understand what faith is and how the word is being used here by Paul.

A little boy, when asked to give a definition of faith, said: “Faith is believing something you know isn’t true.” Well, that is precisely what faith is not! Faith is believing what you know to be true! But it is even more than that—it is acting on what you know to be true.

Some people see faith as something vague and mysterious, but faith is one of the Christian’s most practical commodities. Take this verse, for example: “… faith without works is dead” (Jms 2:26). There is always the element of activity in faith; it prompts us to action. “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” (Heb 11:1).

Taking the shield of faith, then, is responding to the things the Devil hurls at us by the quick application of what we believe about God and His Word, the Bible. When Satan sends his “flaming arrows” in our direction, we can either stand and lament the fact that we are being attacked, or quickly raise the shield of faith and remind ourselves that the Devil is a liar from the very beginning. We affirm that because we are redeemed by the blood of Christ, the Devil has no legal or moral right to taunt us. But believing this is not enough; it must be acted on—and acted on quickly.

Prayer

Father, I see that when Satan throws his “flaming arrows” at me, I must act and act quickly. Help my faith to be so strong that it will not need a “jump start” to get it going. This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Jms 2:14-26; Heb 11:1; 1Jn 5:4

How are we justified?

Write out your definition of faith.

Achieving Tranquility

John 14:1

Do not let your hearts be troubled,” (John 14:1) said Jesus. Does anyone need this message? Of course we do. Just being alive makes us the target

for countless fears and anxieties. We worry about ourselves and those dear to us because of the ever-present possibilities of accident and illness and death. Some of us are painfully aware of financial pressures, and some of us have private fears that we wouldn’t care to name. As if our own personal cares were not enough, there’s the threatening international situation. New alarms assault us every day. It’s a frenzied world, and many hearts are troubled. The need for comfort is universal.

Before going any further, we ought to note the difference between being comforted and being comfortable. There are some things we ought not to be comfortable about. We should always be troubled about cruelty and injustice and corruption. When our Lord encouraged His disciples with these words of comfort, He was in the shadow of the cross. He would show by His death that He wasn’t untroubled about sin and its eternal consequences.

We, too, must never be comfortable about sin in ourselves or in the world. The comfort we are talking about is not a sedative to dull us to the truth. There are some things we ought not to be comfortable about.

But in spite of the conditions around us, we can have a quiet heart. Jesus gave His prescription for a quiet heart.

First, the quiet heart is sure of the person of God. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1 KJV). This is the indispensable foundation of a quiet heart. If we have faith in the unchangeable God, we have certainty in the midst of uncertainty.

The quiet heart is also sure of the presence of God. Death confronts us all with its fearsome suggestions of a solitary journey into a dark, cold unknown. Jesus has gone into that world beyond to prepare a place. He will come again and take us to be with Him forever. Faith in a God, whose presence will be mine forever, makes for a quiet heart. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me!” (Psalm 23:4).

These eternal certainties are the secret of a quiet heart, and they can be yours.

Bramwell Tripp, To the Point