Today: Psalms 89:46-52; Romans 14:19-23; Romans 15:1-13; 1 Chronicles 11; 1 Chronicles 12:1-22

Psalms 89

We all feel sometimes like Ethan the Ezrahite in Psalms 89 when he complains:

“How long, LORD? Will You hide yourself forever? How long will Your wrath burn like fire? Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility You have created all humanity! Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave? Psalm 89:46-48

Everyone of us experiences struggle of one kind or another. It is the fate of us humans who live in this cursed world in deteriorating physical bodies. Struggle is certain in this life. To be human is to experience struggle.

How we RESPOND to it determines whether we are bitter, depressed, angry people or people full of joy, peace, and victory DESPITE our struggles. Peace, joy, and victory are possible through Jesus Christ, even through the most difficult times. PRAISE is the secret — if we can, as did Ethan the Ezrahite, lift our faces upward during our difficulties and say, “Praise be to the LORD forever!” AMEN AND AMEN

Romans 15

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

I am an optimistic person. I tend to always look for the good in people and situations. It is one reason why I am a generally happy person (pessimists are usually miserable people). My optimistic outlook comes from an incredibly strong sense of HOPE, hope in a good future, hope that God has a plan for me, hope that Jesus Christ is REAL and knows me personally, hope that God really does win in the end. (A pessimist would say that I am silly and hoping in fantasies but I wonder which one of us is the happier person??)

HOPE is essential to happiness. It is easy to recognize people without hope — they are depressed, angry, bitter. I could have become this way myself…

As a child and young adult, my hopefulness was focused on the physical. I hopefully assumed that my physical life was going to increasingly improve — more comfort, more money and material things. When my physical life turned in negative directions, I struggled with depression.

As I grew older, matured, and gained life experience, I realized that such hope in the PHYSICAL is not realistic. We all grow old and eventually die. Unexpected circumstances can ruin even the wealthiest of us. Putting my hope in physical things was foolishness.

THIS was the point when bitterness and depression could have crept in. THIS is the point when many people lose their hope.

But I had the benefit of a wise guide — the Holy Spirit — who gently shifted my hope from the physical to the eternal. He opened my eyes to a bigger truth and gave me eternal vision. I now enjoy a deep HOPE that nothing can destroy — neither moth nor decay, not even sickness or financial ruin. Because my hope is in my eternity with Jesus Christ. And NOTHING can take that away from me.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

1 Chronicles 11 & 12

The Israelites loved David. His soldiers loved him. Even warriors from enemy nations loved him. Many of them defected and joined David’s army. They told him, “We are your own flesh and blood.” They risked their lives for him and were fiercely loyal.

Why did everyone love David so much?

David loved them first. He “made a covenant with them” when they anointed him as king.

But at the heart of it all, the source of David’s appeal was his deep love for God. He was loyal and faithful to the LORD. And God blessed everything David did because of it. “And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD Almighty was with him.” (v.11:9)