Saturday, May 16, 2015


God raises people to new life.  He selected the Hebrew people, homeless and enslaved in Egypt, as His own - establishing them in their own land.  God took the prophet, Ezekiel, to a valley full of bones and asked him, "Can these bones live?" Upon hearing the Word of the Lord, the bones were raised to life.  Jesus, God's own son, went through burial in order to conquer death through resurrection.  God gives rise to people and situations, that apart from Him, would have no hope.

Why does God bother with the down trodden, the exhausted, the weak, the broken, the hopeless, the discouraged, the mistake-ridden, or the sick?  For two reasons: First, God is life.  His nature is the complete opposite of brokenness and death and all the struggles of this world.  He is in a perpetual state of life-giving power - never contradicting His nature.  God innately orients Himself to those in dire need.

And secondly, God's power and glory shines the brightest where it is most needed. All are invited to bask in the greatness of God, for all have equal need of it, but some experience His power in a more demonstrative way.  God, though not filled with human emotions, just seems to delight in orchestrating a good, old-fashion, under-dog story.  God uniquely receives all the glory when He turns nothing into something.

Over the span of 52 days, Nehemiah and the people witnessed God's ability to raise up new life. They worked, with His "gracious hand of favor" upon them, day and night to see the wall of Jerusalem rise from its rubble.  The rising of the wall was more than symbolic.  It was real accomplishment and protection from their enemies.  The opposing people that surrounded Jerusalem were in awe of what God had done.  It was His wall.

Scripture, in describing God's disposition towards us, uses the word "jealous."  It's an awkward word choice because of its negative connotation.  But the Holy Spirit inspired its use to capture the intensity of God's Love for us.  God raises us up to be His possession in total surrender to His Lordship.  And it is in that sweet spot that we discover something important.  The same life-giving power that raised us is available daily to sustain us.  God is not a one-hit-wonder.  He is in perpetual motion, abounding in mercy, grace, and power on behalf of His creation.

Why be down when you were created to be risen?

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Face to Face with Lions

Struggle always precedes victory.  Wouldn't be great if we could experience victory without struggle?  But we cannot.  In fact, we can't experience God's deliverance from overwhelming circumstances unless we, first, have something from which to be delivered!

We tend to romanticize stories of God delivering His people victoriously.  We read about God shutting the mouths of the lions when Daniel was thrown into their den, and we cheer.  But do we realize that Daniel had to first stare face to face at some hungry lions, whose mouths were not yet closed, in order to experience the deliverance of God?  We know the end of the story but Daniel did not.

The period of time where we stand face to face with "the lions," not yet knowing the outcome, is the struggle.  Whether the length of time is minutes or months or years, two factors make the struggle particularly difficult.  First, while God is absolutely present in the struggle, we find it difficult to feel His presence.  The emotions, frustrations, and fears of our struggle cloud our ability to sense that He is close.  It's like being in zero-visibility fog not realizing help is only a few feet away.

And secondly, what God is orchestrating in the struggle is never known until victory comes.  God rarely tells us the plan ahead of time.  He does not give us insider information as to the workings going on in the heavenly realms on our behalf. Consequently, the struggle is endured only by an unrelenting belief and faith in the God who delights in delivering us from overwhelming odds.

My heart is full of compassion and prayers this morning for those standing face to face with some lions who are licking their chops - assuming they are on the verge of devouring you.  But you, man or woman of God, stand firm and stare back - not in your own strength but with the power of God.  He is the God of overwhelming odds who will bring you through the struggle to His victory in His timing.

May the wisdom of God invade your heart and mind so that you make think clearly about such things.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden