As long as we have God, we have hope.

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Hello to all of my RC family members,

Here in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, we are finally getting some beautiful spring weather which allows us to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. It seems like the winter season was exceptionally long because of the lockdowns due to the pandemic.

While the COVID-19 virus still rages and is causing so many challenges, we must keep our eyes and focus on God. David said in Psalm 121:1-3, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help! 2 My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not permit thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.”

Family, sometimes life can seem like an uphill climb, can’t it? A despairing man came to see his pastor, and he confessed, “My life is really in bad shape.” “How bad is it?” the pastor inquired. Burying his head in his hands, the man moaned, “I’ll tell you how bad. All I’ve got left is God.”

The pastor’s face lit up. “I’m happy to assure you that a person with nothing left but God has more than enough for great victory!”

I’m pretty sure all of us have felt like that man at some point over the last year, and maybe you are reading this, and you are there right now. Perhaps you’ve felt that nothing you have and nothing you are has value.

But can I encourage you to lift up your eyes and look to God because our help comes from Him. In this current season, we need to be reminded that we still have God. In fact, this is when a person who is imprisoned by doubt or fear or life circumstance finally begins to find the way out. It is when they discover that all they have left is God.

When we feel helpless and hopeless, it is tough for us to take our eyes off ourselves. Our conflict uses up all our energy. Affliction demands attention. But what happens when we look up? What happens when we move our focus from our problems to the power, presence, and peace of God?

When Glynis and I visited the city of Jerusalem, we realized that it was built on a hill. Whenever we read a Bible passage about people on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, we read that those people “went up” to Jerusalem. Many of the Old Testament Psalms were written as traveling worship songs that spiritual pilgrims sang together as they traveled from the surrounding towns to worship in the temple on Mount Zion. As they climbed the hill to Jerusalem, the caravan of people would sing a psalm of praise or lament. That’s why many of the Psalms are titled “A song of ascents.” It means, “A song to sing as you climb up the hill.”

Family, when life seems like an “uphill climb” to you, can you find a song to sing? Psalm 121 begins: 

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills  where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

In these first two verses, the Psalmist moves his focus from his problems to God’s power. The people of God are climbing the hill to the temple on Mount Zion. They are at the point in the journey where there is a lot of effort expended and no results yet. They encourage each other along the way, and they continue to look up, straining to see the top of the mountain pushing toward that moment when they can join in the worship of God. In the temple, they will find hope and wisdom and joy and perspective in the act of worship. They will find refreshment for their souls.

Why are they climbing this hill? What’s the point of this journey? To worship the Almighty, most Powerful God, the God who made the heavens and the earth. Whatever problems we may bring to worship, we know we are laying them at the feet of a God who created the universe and set the natural laws in motion. When we recall the power of the God we serve, we gain a new perspective on our problems and on the possibilities for God to redeem our situation.

Family, we have the power of God in us, working through us, so listen to what the Psalmist writes next:

3 He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

This simple faith in God’s constant presence sounds like the faith of a child or the faith of someone who has faced many sleepless nights and discovered that he or she was not alone in their struggles.

Family, I know that many of you feel alone in this season, but Glynis and I want you to know that you are not alone. God is with you, and we are praying for you.

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, lovers Romeo and Juliet are separated by their families’ deadly feud. Suddenly, during the night, Juliet realizes Romeo stands below her window, out in the garden. When she realizes he is there, she asks how he came. And why he didn’t stay away? After all, this is a dangerous move.

Romeo and Juliet is a story of love, yes, but it is also a story of hate. Suppose the Capulets and the Montagues didn’t hold such intense hatred in their hearts for one another; the story might’ve ended without such devastation (as suicide is – a tragedy). But that is an argument for a different day and some better-educated people.

For now, let’s ignore the terribly tragic ending of perhaps Shakespeare’s most notable work. We will focus on precisely what Romeo says to Juliet, “With love’s light wings did I o’er-perch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out, and what love can do, that dares love attempt.”

Couldn’t this also be a beautiful representation of what a loving God would look like coming to comfort His people in the night? “What love can do, that dares love attempt.”

Next week is the week that leads up to the greatest expression of LOVE ever demonstrated; the crucifixion. As we prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the “LOVE OF GOD,” let us show God how grateful we are for His LOVE that He’s shown us and don’t forget to express His love by loving someone who is hurting this week.

God bless you.

Love,

Bishop

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, You answer our pleas for help. You draw near to us when we are hurting; You save us when we are crushed by life. Your Psalmists declare it on every page. Yet we often feel abandoned and alone. We wonder where You are in our suffering; we imagine You are distant or distracted. Instead of taking our complaints and fears to You, we often turn away from You in frustration. We choose to rely more on our emotions than on Your promises and Your character. Forgive us for running from You in our trouble and for trusting our everyday experience more than Your Word. Teach us to trust You—the God revealed in Scripture. Help us lean on You when life is too much. Lord, You are good, and You are pursuing us with mercy.

 

Amen.

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