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Hope in the Harbor

My husband and I love to visit areas where ships clutter coastlines and the waters disappear into the horizon.  I am drawn to water, no matter the depth or type of coastline it is.  I love rivers, oceans, lakes, ponds, and creeks.  I’m the type of person that can’t just look at a body of water and enjoy the scenery.  I have to dip at least a toe or finger in it, even if it’s freezing cold.  But, if it’s warm or the chill isn’t unbearable, I have plunge into the water, even if I’m not properly clothed for it.  I’ve always been this way, my parents can attest to it from stories of me as a toddler, escaping their attention and jumping into a pool of water, clothes and all.   With that said, my husband loves ships, boats, and lighthouses.  He prefers to float on the water in a vessel or at least admire it from the shore.

I wonder if I’m just anxious for a vacation or if God’s trying to show me something today.  I think it’s a little of both.   This morning, I was praying and not really going anywhere with it.  I have so much on my mind right now and a lot of emotions and thoughts swirling around my head, so this blog post could cause a little seasickness to the reader.  Disclaimers are necessary in the world today!  Anyway, I was loading laundry into the washer, when I just felt like God spoke one word to me, that word was harbor.  I felt like he wanted me to explore that word, so I did.  It lead me to first look up the definition of the word, although I know the definition, but investigating it and chewing on it often leads to other thoughts.  There is a noun definition and a verb definition.  The noun definition is a place on the coast where vessels may find shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures.  It is also a place to seek refuge.  So, thinking of harbors, I immediately think of mine and my husband’s love for them.  But, being a believer, I also think of God and Him being the place that I find shelter during the storms.  He is my refuge in all the emotional thoughts and feelings that I am having at this moment.  I think of sailors who are at sea and a storm comes upon them, they have to act quickly, but their thoughts are immediately on seeking out the horizon, trying to locate a place to dock their vessel, searching for safety.  The depths of the seas surround them; waves crash over the boats, the storms probably feel like they aren’t ever going to end.  I wonder how hopeless they feel when they see the strength of the ocean and understand they aren’t in control.  Then, how do they feel when they spot land, a lighthouse, a harbor with hope inviting them in?  I’m sure they feel relieved, glad, and thankful.  I think of myself and certain times in my life when I’m trying to ride the storms out without seeking direction or looking for refuge.  When I do that, I may feel in control for a little while, but then the severity of the storm hits me and I get scared and realize that I need a refuge, a savior, a harborharbor on the horizon.  With all that being said, I feel like God is just saying that I need to dock my vessel.  I need to tie up to His dock, rest, refuel, and await instructions for the next step.

However, there is also a verb definition for the word, harbor, in two forms as well.  The first is to keep (a thought or feeling, typically a negative one) in one’s mind, especially secretly or to have in mind a thought or feeling, usually over a long period of time.  With this definition, I start thinking, what am I harboring in my mind?  What bad thoughts are keeping me weighed down?  Is this why I feel like I’m drowning sometimes?   Is it worry, anger, doubt, self-pity, aggravation, or maybe a molotav cocktail of them all? Whatever it is, I know it’s not healthy for my soul.  The other verb definition is to protect someone by providing a place to hide.  This points to God again; he protects me and gives me a place to hide.  The scripture that I immediately think of when I think of this definition is Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”   In this, I know I have to give all my thoughts, feelings, and hurts that I’m harboring to God.  He will cover them and I’ll find refuge there.

The next passage that I was led to was Psalm 107.  I love this and have highlighted the theme of this blog today, but the whole passage is spiritually filling, I hope that it feeds you as well.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

    His faithful love endures forever.

2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

    Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.

3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,

    from east and west,

    from north and south.[a]

4 Some wandered in the wilderness,

    lost and homeless.

5 Hungry and thirsty,

    they nearly died.

6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he rescued them from their distress.

7 He led them straight to safety,

    to a city where they could live.

8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

9 For he satisfies the thirsty

    and fills the hungry with good things.

 

10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom,

    imprisoned in iron chains of misery.

11 They rebelled against the words of God,

    scorning the counsel of the Most High.

12 That is why he broke them with hard labor;

    they fell, and no one was there to help them.

13 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom;

    he snapped their chains.

15 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze;

    he cut apart their bars of iron.

 

17 Some were fools; they rebelled

    and suffered for their sins.

18 They couldn’t stand the thought of food,

    and they were knocking on death’s door.

19 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

20 He sent out his word and healed them,

    snatching them from the door of death.

21 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving

    and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

 

23 Some went off to sea in ships,

    plying the trade routes of the world.

24 They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action,

    his impressive works on the deepest seas.

25 He spoke, and the winds rose,

    stirring up the waves.

26 Their ships were tossed to the heavens

    and plunged again to the depths;

    the sailors cringed in terror.

27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards

    and were at their wits’ end.

28 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

29 He calmed the storm to a whisper

    and stilled the waves.

30 What a blessing was that stillness

    as he brought them safely into harbor!

31 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

32 Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation

    and before the leaders of the nation.

 

33 He changes rivers into deserts,

    and springs of water into dry, thirsty land.

34 He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands,

    because of the wickedness of those who live there.

35 But he also turns deserts into pools of water,

    the dry land into springs of water.

36 He brings the hungry to settle there

    and to build their cities.

37 They sow their fields, plant their vineyards,

    and harvest their bumper crops.

38 How he blesses them!

    They raise large families there,

    and their herds of livestock increase.

 

39 When they decrease in number and become impoverished

    through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

40 the Lord pours contempt on their princes,

    causing them to wander in trackless wastelands.

41 But he rescues the poor from trouble

    and increases their families like flocks of sheep.

42 The godly will see these things and be glad,

    while the wicked are struck silent.

43 Those who are wise will take all this to heart;

    they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

 
 

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Who deserves to live?

If unborn lives matter, than how can you disregard people who are living?  I ask this question because I hear people say they are against abortion but are quick to damn people to death who commit heinous crimes.  Would Jesus equate one human life above another?  Is there only hope for some and no hope for others?  Does evil lurk so deep in some that there isn’t even a slight glimmer of hope?  If abortion was illegal, would all of those lives lead godly lives if they were born?  I personally am against abortion, but I’m also against the death penalty. I believe that all life has potential for good or evil.  Wasn’t Paul a murderer before he met Christ?  What changed him?  Christ.

 

 

Matthew 5

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2018 in Life, Spiritual Reflections

 

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Building Upon The Rock

Last night, I ran into an old friend of mine from school. We locked eyes and were genuinely happy to see each other. We embraced each other and talked about how quickly time passes and she nodded toward her daughter when I asked if she had grandchildren yet. Her daughter was pregnant with her first grandchild who would be arriving in a few months. She spoke briefly of struggles she had been dealing with but that she was doing better. The new baby gave her renewed hope and direction for her life. I encouraged her and told her that she could continue to come out of her struggles. Hope is often something that seems lost in the moment of struggle. At least it does briefly, until you refocus on the goal at hand, but more importantly hope is found in God.

Our community has been hit lately with some tough weather. We’ve had two weeks of snow and slick roads. Then it warmed up, which was great, but then yesterday morning the rivers and streams began to overflow. Many areas are dealing with flooding and being trapped once again in their homes by weather. Today it is sleeting, so the roads are very icy. The weather is affecting business. It’s also affecting others paychecks because they can’t get to work. But, we can’t let it get us down. We have to still live and do. I started thinking of the much quoted scripture in Jeremiah. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That verse has often reminded me that God’s hand is on my life and that He wants the best for me. But, I decided this morning to explore the whole chapter. I think we should really remember to look at the whole context of the passage. Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles in Babylon, this is what Jeremiah 29 is about. He reminds the people that God knows where they are and why there are there. It makes no sense to the people why they are captive and dealing with trouble, but God knows the full picture. Jeremiah reminds them that God hasn’t abandoned them. He also warns them about listening to false prophets. These false prophets were telling them that their captivity would be brief. That wasn’t the case; their captivity would be for seventy years. Jeremiah tells the people that in this time period continue to build homes, plant gardens, and marry their sons and daughters. It’s hard sometimes to continue living even when the circumstances aren’t good, but we have to continue on. If we just sit down and do nothing when things are bad, we would not do ourselves or our future any good. Why does Jeremiah encourage them to keep building, planting and marrying? They needed to continue doing so because they are readying the future generation to come into the Promised Land. When we are struggling, we have to look past ourselves and look toward those who will benefit in our struggling. We have to teach the next generation that hope comes from God. We have to endure, so that we will survive, but more importantly so that the future generation will survive.
Think about your life and tough moments in your life. It was tough to go through those things, but have they helped you to be compassionate to others who’ve went through similar circumstances? Have they given you the ability to feed into someone else who is going through what you have already overcome? I know that through tough moments in the past and even current ones, I question God and ask why. But, we have to be ok with the fact that He knows and that His plans aren’t to harm us. He wants us to call upon Him and seek Him. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to rely fully on Him. He wants us not to be selfish but to think of others. He wants us to build our future through people, our offspring and our community. We need to keep building and planting. Our relationships with mankind need to be reaching and lifting. Our arms need to embrace each other. We need to encourage one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to love one another.

“For the Lord says, ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My promise to you. I will bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will look for Me and find Me, when you look for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will bring you back and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have made you go,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you away.” Jeremiah 29:10-14

 
 

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