Breaking Out of the Shell

Breaking Out of the Shell. The picture you see is of one of our chicks that hatched this morning. These chicks came from the chickens that died in our barn fire. We are having all kinds of thoughts this morning as a family as we witness this joyous event.

Breaking Out of the Shell

God’s Design and Creation. God is marvelous and awesome. It is just amazing to watch a chick work to hatch itself out of its protective shell. No one but God teaches the chicken how to do this. God programmed it with wisdom and instinct.

A New Life Brings Hope. Spring is such a hopeful time of year. Watching chicks hatch, grass green up, trees bud, and flowers spring up is all part of the hope that comes with each spring season!

Stuck in a Spiritual Shell. My daughter, Jessica, mentioned the concept that sometimes as Christians we get stuck in a comfortable place spiritually and we stop growing. She said we need to break out of it. God wants us to grow, and just like that chick, it takes work. More than one example can be seen in Scripture where God wants us to grow and to avoid being stuck in baby-hood spiritually (See 1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 14:20; Ephesians 4:14; Hebrews 5:12-14). That shell is there, designed by God with everything that chick needs for around 21 days, but after that the chick needs to break out of the shell. God expects growth, and that requires us to become uncomfortable.

New Life from Tragedy. The parents of this chick died in our barn fire, but life goes on, doesn’t it. New birth comes. Hope and light comes out of darkness. It doesn’t replace the grief, but it does bring comfort. Have you ever studied Joshua’s ancestry? Joshua the great conqueror of Canaan was born into a family that had experienced great tragedy. Read this following passage and meditate upon it today.

The sons of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eladah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead. The men of Gath who were born in that land killed them because they came down to take away their cattle. Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house. Now his daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon and Uzzen Sheerah; and Rephah was his son, as well as Resheph, and Telah his son, Tahan his son, Laadan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, and Joshua his son (1 Chronicles 7:20-27).

Hope comes from tragedy. Comfort comes after the pain. Light comes after the darkness. We just have to hold on to God and trust in Him.

A Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

A Living Hope. This is such an encouragement to me, and I pray that this passage will be an encouragement to you today as well. Peter began his letter with praise to God. Why? Because of His abundant mercy and what happened because of God’s abundant mercy.

We are born again, and by being re-created by God we have been blessed with a living hope. Our hope lives because Jesus lives. The hopes based solely in this life are dead hopes, uncertain hopes, hopes that fade away and disappoint. God’s “living hope” is connected to the eternal inheritance we receive through Jesus Christ.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).

This inheritance from God through Jesus Christ is:

  • Incorruptible.
  • Undefiled.
  • Does not fade away.
  • Reserved in heaven for you. There are two observations about this statement I’d like to make. One is that it is reserved. We are not going to miss out on this inheritance if we are in Christ. Through the blood of Christ and the grace of God, it is reserved for us. The second is that it is reserved “in heaven.” It would have to be, because everything on this earth becomes corrupted and defiled and things fade away. Not so with God’s inheritance in heaven.

This hope also lives, Peter adds, because God is keeping us through this life by His power when we believe and trust in His salvation. If this hope was based upon my power to keep it, it would be a dead hope in a hurry. But this is God’s power, God’s mercy, God’s working, God’s salvation, God’s inheritance, and God’s hope.

Finally, keep this in mind today at work or at school or wherever you walk today. If you are in Christ, you have a living hope. May we behave, talk and think like those who have that living hope.

And the Lord Remembered

And the Lord remembered Hannah (1 Samuel 1:19).

The Lord remembered Noah (Genesis 8:1).

God is worthy of praise because He “remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever” (Psalms 136:23).

The above verses are so comforting. “And the Lord remembered…” God loves His children. He remembers His promises. God never leaves us nor forsakes us. That is a fact, but in the midst of pain, look at what God’s people sometimes wonder. Watch as they go through the process of despair to hope. These Holy Spirit-given passages are there for us today to help us go through the same process with God (and to help others do the same).

I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a breaking of my bones, my enemies reproach me, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God (Psalms 42:9-11).

To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph. I cried out to God with my voice–To God with my voice; and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah. And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw You, O God; the waters saw You, they were afraid; the depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about. The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, and Your footsteps were not known. You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron (Psalms 77:1-20).

Here is one final passage from Isaiah. Notice how God’s people feel, and how God helps them (and us) to see the reality. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me” (Isaiah 49:13-16).

They Are New Every Morning

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him (Lamentations 3:19-25).

Many of you reading this already have heard that last Tuesday night our family suffered a tragedy in that our barn and riding arena burned down, and we lost our horses, sheep, goats and chickens. The family and our house is safe, praise God. But the pain we are experiencing is just hard to put into words. We certainly welcome your continued prayers to God on our behalf as we walk through this trial and seek healing and comfort. The outpouring of love and support from neighbors, the church family and from friends around the country has been overwhelming. God is good, and His love is seen in the people He has made in His image.

They Are New Every Morning

The picture I have attached to this post is of the sun beginning to rise on Friday morning. You know the sun rises every morning? Even when there is devastation and pain, the sun rises every morning. Seeing the sunrise made me think of the above passage in Lamentations written by Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was standing in the midst of Jerusalem after its destruction. An entire city including the temple Solomon built for Israel to worship the Lord their God was destroyed and burned. I can only begin to imagine the devastation he saw. I can only begin to imagine the deep pain Jeremiah experienced as he surveyed the carnage. Fires take a long time to go out. The smells and sights are things you will never remove from your mind. Worse than that for Jeremiah was that he preached for decades warning of this event, yet the people did not listen nor repent. The book of Lamentations is structured such in the Hebrew that Jeremiah is literally weeping from A to Z.

Yet in the midst of all that pain, Jeremiah called to his mind some very important qualities of God. When we are in the depths our pain, we must also call to mind these qualities of God. I will leave you with these hopeful phrases from Lamentations 3.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning.

Great is Your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul.

Therefore I will hope in Him.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.