Abundant rain

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This is what I woke up to this morning. This photo was taken around 7:00am Pacific Standard Time. This is my street. This is my mountain. It’s hard to see. It’s difficult to breathe.

Hundreds of kilometres away, wildfires are eating up thousands of hectares of forest forcing thousands of people out of their homes looking for safety. Weather conditions have pushed vast quantities of smoke towards the west coast from the interior of British Columbia as well as north from our American neighbouring Washington State. The province has been in a state of emergency for weeks now.

There is no rain, only dry heat, in the near weather forecast.

forecast

As I sat outside in the haze this morning to read my Bible, this is the verse that jumped off the page:

You send abundant rain, O God,
to refresh the weary Promised Land.

Psalm 68:9 (NLT)

God not only provides for our spiritual needs, but also for our physical. Right now, we need rain. Lots of it—and without the lightning that has been sparking additional fires. This morning, I’m praying that God would send spiritual rain to His people and put a burden on their hearts to pray for natural rain.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 68-69, Romans 3

Badge of burden

As human beings, most of us are pretty good at amassing cares and burdens. We gather them like a scout collects badges and wear them proudly as though carrying such a heavy load makes us more godly. It doesn’t.

Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

Psalm 55:22 (NLT)

This verse reminds me of a song from my childhood. If you grew up in church in North America, you may have had the opportunity to get to know Psalty the Singing Songbook. He was pretty cool back in the day. Now he’s moderately terrifying. But in one episode of Kid’s Praise, there are a couple of campers who have become lost in the woods at night (45:45 in the video). Instead of panicking, they break out into song. Who wouldn’t? The amazing thing is, a lot of those little songs I learned as a kid still stick with me as an adult. This one still goes through my head when I find myself under the weight of cares of collected.

I cast all my cares upon You
I lay all of my burdens
Down at Your feet
And any time
I don’t know
What to do
I will cast all my cares upon You

We weren’t created to be beasts of burden. We were created to a have a dependence on God. He is more than willing to carry those things that are too heavy for us. He wants to. But we have to let Him.

Again, it comes down to humility. We need to admit that what we carry is to much for us. There is no shame in that.

My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

In the same chapter, Paul goes on to say, for when I am weak, then I am strong. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Even though popular culture would spurn the idea of admitting weakness, that is exactly where we are at our strongest.

But God is my helper.
The Lord is the one who keeps me alive!

Psalm 54:4 (NLT)

When we, like the lost campers, cast our cares on God and lay our burdens at His feet, we make room for His strength to shine through. The load is lifted and we can live life the way we were meant to live it—with a complete dependence on our Creator, free from heavy burdens.

So take off your badge of burden. Give it to the Lord. He is your helper. He will take care of you.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 53-55, Acts 27:16-44

It worked

Once all the tribes of Israel had received their inheritance, it was Joshua’s turn. Because of his loyalty and leadership, God said he could have any town he wanted. Any town in all of Israel! There were a lot of towns to choose from. And, it seems, with no hesitation, Joshua chose Timnath-serah. In the hill country. Of Ephraim.

After all the land was divided among the tribes, the Israelites gave a special piece of land to Joshua as his inheritance. For the Lord had said he could have any town he wanted. He chose Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the town and lived there.

Joshua 19:49-50 (NLT)

Oh, that hill country! Joshua chose to take land and make his permanent home in the land that wasn’t enough for the descendants of Joseph. That had too many trees and too many Canaanites with iron chariots.

I’d like to think that Joshua took that particular spot to prove a point. The tribe of Ephraim wasn’t satisfied there. But Joshua and his family would be. What Ephraim saw as a burden, Joshua would prove to be a blessing.

If God has given you a blessing that requires work, but you refuse to do the work, do you think it will stay in your possession forever? Of all the places Joshua could have taken, he took the place that another tribe had made little of. Joshua was able to see the potential in the problem and decided it would be for him and his own for generations to come.

If you don’t work your blessing, someone else will.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 19-20, Luke 5:17-39

Come to me

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

This passage only serves to emphasise what we discussed yesterday about whispering and shouting.

Jesus whispers. He is gentle and humble. You rarely—if ever—find the humble and gentle hollering at people. Jesus didn’t go around planning to offend people or turn folks away. In fact, His Gospel was (and still is) completely inclusive. All He asks is that we swap our burden for His. That we leave our sin behind and take up the yoke of His grace.

Grace is a heck of a lot lighter than the weight of sin. Who wouldn’t want a lighter load.

The truth is that those who were offended by Jesus were those who enjoyed the burden of sin. They liked the position it afforded them. While grace is lighter, it would mean trading the load they’d grown comfortable carrying. They didn’t want to be taught about humility and gentleness. What they couldn’t see was the ease a life of humility might offer.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

James 4:10 (NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind dropping a heavy load, trading it for a lighter one, and then having Someone help me carry that one.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 33-35, Matthew 11