How do you define adversity? It is symbolized by tough times. It is exhibited by disagreements. It represents challenges.
How do we deal with adversity? Why should we embrace it? Misfortune means misery, right? Calamity and distress are its partners.
But the Bible says, “The Lord is A stronghold in times of trouble.” The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed. “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Psalm 34:10b)
So let us embrace adversity By understanding it is a vehicle That strengthens us just as fire Tempers steel and hardens it.
We are called to share each other’s burdens. That is one of the purposes of church: Congregations are called to care for, Encourage, empathize, and strengthen one another.
“The church is a network of shoulders Supporting the collective weight Of everyone’s troubles, lifting burdens, Helping others find rest for their weary hearts.” (Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries)
God often uses hard times to get our attention. When things are going great, we are not so quick to turn to Him. But trials drive us to our knees for answers and comfort.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.
The adversity that I faced recently was the death of my “favorite student,” Ty Stiles. The picture above could easily have been him. His early death was “misfortune” to the highest degree! I have told you about him in several recent blogs. Yesterday was his Memorial Service at Monte Vista Chapel, his home church in Turlock, CA. I was blessed to be able to attend it virtually because the church recorded it on a YouTube broadcast.
How do we face the “misfortune” of such a loss? Only by our faith! Only by knowing God keeps His promises and Ty has gone to Heaven. We will go there some day, too. We will all be reunited. In the meantime, adversity turns to adventure. We are invited to live our lives with thankfulness for the privilege of knowing one another. We are asked to change our perspective from “I can’t handle this,” to “”I can’t handle this on my own, but I can with Jesus’ help.”
Let the adventure of today’s challenges bring strength when we feel weak, safety when we feel danger, comfort when we feel distress. Let us be the ones who stand tall and say, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” Be ever ready to leap for joy and with your song, ever praise the Lord who is our strength.
Pray for his comfort and strength, rather than praying that he’d simply remove difficulties. Embrace Adversity. Be the shoulder others lean on. God will bless you!
So, what is mercy? Is it something that you need? No?! So you’re perfect?
Well dear, guess again! We’re all in need of mercy. It’s undeserved grace.
You ask, what is grace? Well, it’s undeserved mercy! Don’t you just love it?
Definitions are Often so convoluted. Good thing for mercy!
Mercy me! Oh my! I sure need grace and mercy. Both are found in prayer.
Prayer for Help, Mercy and Grace
Prayer from Rev. Steve Hundley PASTORAL PRAYER prayed at Madison Valley Presbyterian Church ZOOM service 2-7-2021
“Loving God, we thank You that You treat us as if all were one; and each one as if there were only one. We thank You that we are all held together in Your love; and none are beyond Your caring reach. Thank You that You hear our prayers:
the prayers we feel awkward about;
the prayers we are hesitant to pray;
and, the prayers we feel that we do not know the right words to pray.
Thank You that You know us well enough to hear our thoughts, our yearnings, our stumblings, our grumblings, our secret hopes and fears, even when we dare not, or cannot put them into words. We are eternally grateful that anytime we turn toward you, the arms of Your grace and love are there to enfold us with Your love that cannot be bought, earned, or bargained for. Since it is the gift which You give and which we can only receive, give us wisdom to joyfully receive it.
O Lord, this past year has reminded us just how fearful and fragile; yet, precious and wonderful life can be. We need Your help. So Jesus, grant us this: the ability to as easily recognize and celebrate the beautiful as we are able to itemize the ugly. Grant us the ability to as easily praise as we are to condemn. Grant us the ability to as easily unite as we are to divide. Grant us the ability to as easily support and help one another as we are to ignore. And, grant us the ability to as easily express joy as we are to display our disappointment.
Grant us some sense of worth and accomplishment which places the mark of meaning to our days. In spite of the many limitations this pandemic has placed on our daily lives, grant us some sense of purpose, that tomorrow is something to look forward to, rather than to dread. Encourage us to reach outside of ourselves, and find ways to express our faith and love in ways that would benefit this world and its people whom You love.
Jesus grant us this: though life tumbles in, and almost everything seems to crumble around us; when the simple things we took for granted seem a distant memory; when hope frays and a simple touch, or a caring hug is something we remember we used to do; O Lord, find some special way to hold us in the palm of Your hand.
We pray for this wonderful yet sometimes unhappy…this divided yet dependent…this brave but fearful, mixed-up world we live in. We have created enemies by the misuse of its power; and, what could have been a blessing for all has become a curse to many by our misuse of its abundance. O Lord, give us and the leaders of this great nation the will to break out of destructive patterns, and grant us peace in our time. “
Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we pray this prayer in the name of Our Father Who art in Heaven… Amen!
So, what is mercy? Is it something that we need? You bet! Every day!!
Have a wonderful week. I pray for your health, happiness, and safety – every day! Thanks for visiting. See ya later, Love, JanBeek
Before you leave, take a few minutes to treat yourself to the story behind “The Prayer” and hear the most beautiful voices (my bias) in the world. Where do you see God’s mercy at work in this duet??
In these days of national crises, It’s easy to feel powerless. It’s easy to duck our heads and hide. It’s easy to take the role of cowardice.
Our uncertainty about the future Stirs in us anxiety and fear. But stronger yet is our faith. We take courage. God is here.
This letter from Amy Klobuchar, A politician I have come to admire, Came to me in today’s mail. Her message calms the fire.
Today’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes at a time when his work and his message are more important than ever. The forces of division that are trying to convince us that our neighbors are our enemies have been loud in recent months — but I still believe as I always have that there is still more that unites us as Americans than separates us.
Our nation is coming together to reject violence and authoritarianism. This is the spirit that we must bring into the future. We must heed the words of Dr. King, that we are all “tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Thank you, Amy
Turning to the wisdom of the scriptures, We can gain resolve and be brave. We can shine a light and be courageous. God tells us how to behave.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave or forsake you.”
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit this land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
The rioters at our nation’s capitol last week were intent on “taking back the country” by overturning the Biden/Harris election. They were convinced that the election was fraught with fraud. Hundreds of court cases were brought against election officials. Each case lost or was thrown out. Even judges appointed by President Trump found “no fraud existed.”
The actions of the rioters were not what Martin Luther King would have sanctioned. They were not what God in His scripture advocates. Paul, in his letter to the people of Corinth said what we need to hear today:
1 Corinthians 16:13
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
He was not speaking to rioters. He was speaking to give courage to the people of Corinth to stand against oppressors.
Part of today’s problem in the USA (in my humble opinion) is that there is a host of Americans who have decided the people on the side of the law are the oppressors. They have painted Donald Trump as their liberator. A huge portion of our citizenry still is convinced the election was stolen. For only the second time in our history, the outgoing president will not be there at the inauguration to wish the incoming president well – and to encourage a peaceful transition of power. It is sad, indeed!
The most important thing we can do as a nation – and in fact, as a world – is to pray. Ask God to give courage and steadfastness to those people who have been elected to lead us forward. Join together in asking for a peaceful transition. There are (hopefully) many such prayer meetings occurring today and tomorrow. Here is one of them:
As we EMBRACE COURAGE and stand in the power and love of Christ, we must be discerning. Listen for the voice of God’s Truth. Try not to believe misleading rhetoric. Be sure we stand in God’s Will as we act by His strength.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today. Embrace Courage, my friends. See ya tomorrow.
This is the image I put on the front of this week’s church bulletin:
If you’ve followed my blog for a week or more, you know that Sunday afternoon’s blog usually is devoted to sermon notes from this morning’s worship service at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana – sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley.
Today’s sermon, “Listening for God,” was based on the story of Hannah, Samuel, and Eli as told in 1 Samuel 3:1-20 and John 1:43-51.
Listening for God
Sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes by Jan Beekman
I was known to be able To sleep through anything. I inherited that trait from my grandma. You could sing At the top of your lungs And she would not awake. That’s a trait I retained Through most of my life’s daybreaks.
But later in life I found I would awaken at midnight And be unable to go back to sleep. I couldn’t nod off, try as I might. And in the wee hours I find The bad things seem worse. They magnify in the darkness. Sleeplessness is a curse!
So, how must it have been When Samuel heard God’s voice In the middle of the night – Must’a made him puzzle – not rejoice! His mother, Hannah, also Heard God’s voice when barren. He told her she’d give birth, So she promised her babe she’d be sharin’.
When her baby, Samuel, was born, She kept her promise to God And gave her child to Him By delivering him to Eli’s sod. Samuel grew up in the church. One night Sam heard the sound Of a voice calling out his name. He went to Eli in a running bound.
Eli told him it was God Calling him to listen and hear. It took courage to listen and accept That it was the Lord speaking clear. Samuel’s whole life changed that night As he suddenly became a man. He learned to listen without fright And obey God’s voice… just as we can.
There are lots of voices we hear In our nights that lack sweet slumber. Are we listening to the true voice of God Or is it somebody else – or thunder? While we wake to the world’s troubles, Sometimes it’s hard to discern and hear The Word of God – and live what He commands. Declare our willingness, and know God is near.
There is grace and hope knowing When Samuel listened, he changed From a boy to a Man of God – And his future was rearranged. Take courage and respond with “Speak, Lord, your servant is ready To hear and respond, and live out Your words to me. Keep me steady.”
There were a couple dozen of us tuned in to this ZOOM church service today. Thank you for joining us via this blog I pray you are tuned in to hear God’s voice, too.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
To be sure your steps Are on the path the Lord sets Embrace Listening
… and practice obedience! Here’s one of the hymns we sang during our ZOOM service this morning:
You may know the song, but do you know the story behind it?
It is well worth your time to listen to this wonderful explanation
and to hear the gorgeous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
When peace like a river attendeth my way When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul It is well With my soul It is well, it is well with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come Let this blest assurance control That Christ has regarded my helpless estate And hath shed His own blood for my soul
It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul!
It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul.
Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Bliss Philip P / Spafford Horatio / Langley Leanne
It is well with my soul. May it be well with your soul, too. God bless you! Have a wonderful week.
Thank you for checking in with JanBeek today. If you are one of the newbies here, welcome!!
You may not know that I take sermon notes in poetry most Sundays, and then I share them here. I do… and I enjoy helping you hear what I heard through my poetic filters. Comments always appreciated.
Sermon by Reverend Steve Hundley Madison Valley Presbyterian Church Ennis, Montana Notes by Jan Beekman
God is Great, God is Good!
Thanksgiving celebrations Have a history with friends. This year with COVID, Most will find unwelcomed ends.
Reunited old relationships Were important to reflame. Old traditions are important. What’ll we do to reclaim?
What can we do to overcome This year of so many deaths? How can we truly be thankful When so many breathed last breaths?
Remember to give thanks For life – no matter how short. Help the family say good-bye, And trust God. Give no retort!
There is no way we can Make whining acceptable. Suck it up and give thanks For life! … Be respectable.
Praise and give thanks to God For the daily gifts He gives. Blessed be the Lord of all. Blessed be our God. He lives!
Psalm 100 gives praise No matter the troubles and strife. Remember the password to God: “Thank You!” God, thank you for life!
Rev. Steve told a story about a family Thanksgiving a few years ago where his mom ALWAYS asked him to be the one to provide the blessing. But on this particular Thanksgiving, his four-year-old second cousin interrupted and said HE wanted to say the blessing this year. Steve’s mom told him he could, assuming Steve would follow up with the REAL blessing.
The four-year-old cleared his throat and declared, “God is Great – God is Good – Amen!” Steve’s mom asked, “That’s it?” And the boy responded emphatically, “Yes! That’s it!” Then she turned to Steve, expecting him to expound further. Steve simply said, “Amen!”
Yes, that’s it … that’s all we need to know: “God is Great! God is Good! Amen!”
Steve’s opening prayer this morning: “Father in heaven, we give You thanks for life and for all of the experiences that life brings us. We give You thanks for joy, hope, peace, and answered prayers, but we also give You thanks for our trials, sorrows, and pain. We give You thanks for our land, for the beauty of the landscape, for the riches it provides for our living, for the people and cultures among us. Above all things, we give You thanks for our hope in Christ, for the life and freedom that will ultimately be ours. Teach us to cherish all Your gifts. Teach us also to use all these resources for the good of society and for glory to You. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.“
*AN AFFIRMATION OF THANKSGIVING
I believe in the God of fruit time and harvest, who makes the land to bear gifts in its time and fills our tables with the bounty of His hand.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who was the first fruit of those who slept, and brings us to spiritual tables where our cups overflows.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, who causes us to remember all things for which we are grateful and teaches us to see a relationship between our gifts and the Giver.
I believe in the world as the arena of my spiritual life, where I am to share my table with the poor and my hospitality with the stranger; for in so doing, I shall fulfill the desires of my great and good God who has given me everything, and of His Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Thank you for joining me for our Sunday service. If you find yourself in Ennis, Montana on a Sunday morning, do come and join us at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church. 308 W Hugel St, Ennis, MT 59729 (406) 682-4355
May the Lord Bless and Keep You safe now and always.
Problems Creep in Usually they’re unbidden Happened all week long Blame
Gifted With Love From my Lord I did move forward Strength
Possibilities Are fueled By firm beliefs Making hard things easier Faith
One step at a time Life is easier with faith Just follow the Light!
This last one’s a Haiku, but the preceding series of three poems (written in the German-inspired style of Elfchen or Elevenie) shares a total of eleven words in each poem, with a sequence by line of one, two, three, four, and one words.
I hope you had a good week. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for visiting JanBeek. See ya tomorrow.