Hope in the Storm

I recently painted a picture of a rainbow. To me the rainbow is a reminder of God’s promise to Noah after the flood recorded in Genesis.

Hope in the Storm

When I see a rainbow in the sky, I think of the hope we have in Jesus Christ – even in times of difficulty.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Psalm 46:1

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

As I have learned of family/friends/acquaintances that are going through a difficult time – (death of a loved one, serious illness, loss of job) I have painted a smaller version of this painting and sent to them. It has been a joy to me to hear that these paintings have encouraged them.

As a retired minister my opportunities to serve the Lord have changed. I no longer speak in a pulpit, pastor a church or do evangelistic speaking, but I am thankful that God has opened another door for me to still help others.

I agree with the Psalmist who wrote:

O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
    and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.
Now that I am old and gray,
    do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
    your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

I Will Praise the Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Psalms were set to the accompaniment of stringed instruments and served as the temple hymnbook and devotional guide for the Jewish people, The tremendous amount of subject matter in the Psalms includes diverse topics, such as jubilation, war, peace, worship, judgment, messianic prophecy, praise and lament.  It is the largest, perhaps most widely used, book in the entire Bible.  It explores the full range of human experience in a very personal and practical way in its 150 songs.

Originally unnamed because of the wide variety of material, it became known as the “Book of Praises”.

The Greek word Psalmoi became an early title for this book and where we get the word Psalter and Psalm. 

Sometime take a look at the different chapters throughout the Psalms and you will find verse after verse starts with the words “I will”.  “I will praise Him, I will lift up my voice, I will sing unto the Lord, I will bless the Lord, I will, I will, I will.”   “I will” is a positive declaration of the individual who is determined to praise the Lord.  It is something you must decide.   You can choose not to praise God or to praise Him.   If you simply do not choose to praise Him, it is an act of defiance which is rebelling against the Word of God which is sin.   You can come to church week after week and sit or stand in the presence of Almighty God and either praise Him or not.  You have that right.  Praise takes many forms from a simple singing of the songs or saying amen to clapping your hands and many other forms.  God wants you to praise Him.  

As a result of praising God your heart will be lifted, your cares and burdens made lighter, and you will feel a warmth and joy that only God can give.  It is far beyond my ability to think that man, woman, boy, or girl would not want that from God when it requires so little effort.

The prophet Malachi in the book by his name probes deeply into several practices of the people of his day.  One of those was the offering of polluted offerings.  When the law was given by Moses from God, the children of Israel were under a system of rules that were complex and very regulated.  Offerings of various types were to be made for different occasions.   In the book of Leviticus we find a list of all the sacrifices they were to offer.  Those sacrifices and offerings included a peace offering, a burnt offering, a meal offering, a guilt offering, a sin offering and a daily sacrifice.  Those can be found in Leviticus 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 16, and 29.

Now, thank God, we do not have to do all that ritualistic sacrifice and offering, but God does want us to offer the sacrifice of praise, of worship.  There is a correlation between the offerings of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament and praise and worship of the New.   Let us look at the Word of God.

Malachi 1:6-9 – A son honors his father and a servant his master.  If then I am the Father, where is My honor?  And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?  Says the LORD of hosts to you priests who despise My name.  Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’  You offer defiled food on My altar, but say, ‘In what way have we defiled you?’  By saying ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’  And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil?  And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?  Offer it then to your governor!  Would he be pleased with you?  Would he accept you favorably?” says the LORD of hosts.

He said go invite your governor and offer him a meal that is diseased and see how he likes it…then ask yourself, why would I offer this to God almighty God?  But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us.  While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?” says the LORD of hosts.”

Did you hear that question?   We should ask that same question of ourselves when we offer halfhearted praise in His house.  How many times do we come into church and instead of focusing on praising and honoring God, we look around to see who is here, we talk to the one sitting next to us, we let our mind wonder to where we will eat lunch?  How would we behave if the president or some sports figure or famous person was speaking to us?  

Is God pleased with the praise that we offer?  Not just here in the church.  Even more important, what about our daily life?  We need to do a self check to make sure our praise, our life, our worship is from the depths of our heart and is truly meaningful.  Our praise is to an Almighty God.  He is worthy.  He is worthy, He is worthy.

Malachi 1:10-14 – Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,” says the LORD of hosts.  Nor will I accept an offering from your hands for from the rising of the sun, even to its going down My name shall be great among the Gentiles.  In every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it, in that you say ‘The table of the LORD is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’  You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ and you sneer at it says the LORD of hosts “ And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick.  Thus you bring an offering.  Should I accept this from your hand?” says the LORD?  “ But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male and takes a vow  But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished—For I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts.   “ And My name is to be feared among the nations.

Over and over again in this passage He states several different ways “My Name shall be great”.  By the sincere offering of the sacrifices and now in our day, our praise and worship, we glorify God.  As we do, we are a witness to the unbeliever of the goodness of God.  In other words if you want to be a good witness…praise God by the way you live your life, the way that you worship Him, the way you exalt His name….You will be blessed as a result and others, including the nonbeliever will begin to take notice.   

Malachi 2:1-3 – And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.  If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,” says the LORD of hosts.  “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.  Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it.

In this passage God is simply saying the refuse (or dung) I will not receive and in fact will smear it in your face because it is unacceptable.  He further states that our children will be cursed if we follow this pattern.    

If you are going to praise the Lord, do it in a praiseworthy manner, in song, in praise, in conversation, in word and deed.  Let your thoughts, your words, your deeds, your praise so honor God that men will see your good works and glorify God.

Colossians 3:23 – and whatever you dodo it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

Matthew 5:116 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.