Abortion, Gospel

Throwback Thursday ~ Planned Parenthood: There, But for the Grace of God…

Originally published August 15, 2015

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You walk into your doctor’s office for your annual check up—flu shot, cancer, cholesterol and blood sugar screening, blood pressure check—you know, routine maintenance on the ol’ bod. You’ve chosen this doctor because you don’t have health insurance and he’s kind enough to lower his prices and work with you on a payment plan. His office is clean and bright, beautifully decorated, and the staff is always friendly. You even get a lollipop at the end of each visit.

But this year, as you’re walking down the hall to exam room four, you happen to notice that in exam room three, there’s a playpen in the corner with an adorable baby girl in it, cooing away and playing with a toy.

“Odd,” you think, since this is not a pediatrician’s office. You continue to your own room, don that scratchy paper gown, and wait for the doctor. By the time he comes in and begins the exam, you can no longer contain your curiosity. Whose baby is it? Why is there even a baby in the office?

“Oh, yes,” the doctor says matter of factly, “that baby was abandoned by her parents. Nobody wants her, so when I get finished with your check up, I’m going to torture her to death and then sell her organs to medical researchers.”

Your jaw hits the floor. Your stomach turns. You can’t believe the monstrous words you’ve just heard.

“How could you do such a horrible thing?” you scream over your revulsion. The doctor looks surprised that you should ask.

“It’s really no big deal,” he says. “We only do a few of those a week. The vast majority of my practice is providing health care and counseling for patients like you.”

Let me ask you something—would you use that doctor and think that the care he provides you mitigates his atrocious behavior? I hope not. Yet I have heard people defend Planned Parenthood (an organization which has been torturing babies to death for decades, and, we recently learned, profits from the sale of their organs) because Planned Parenthood ostensibly performs a minimum number of abortions and mainly provides health services, such as the ones mentioned above, to women who need them. Somehow, in these people’s minds, the health care Planned Parenthood provides makes up for the heinous murders they commit day after day.

Does it really all balance out? Of course not.

In fact, let’s say, Planned Parenthood had only ever tortured fifty babies to death (instead of the millions they’ve actually killed). And let’s say they provided free health care to everyone on the planet, cured cancer, and brought about world peace. Those are some wonderful things, but does it erase the fact that they brutally ended fifty innocent lives? Do all those good deeds make up for even one murder?

No. They don’t. Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes. Planned Parenthood’s hands are drenched in blood that all the free health care in the world can’t wash away.

They’re hopelessly guilty. Just like we are.

Apart from Christ, we are Planned Parenthood. We come before God with blood on our hands. Not the blood of millions of babies, but the blood of one child. God’s child. Jesus. We are responsible for His death. It was our sin that caused Him to be tortured to death. Our sin that brutally murdered Him.

“Oh, but it’s no big deal. I’m mainly a good person. The vast majority of my life is spent doing good things and helping people. That totally makes up for those few sins I’ve committed. My good deeds outweigh the bad.”

No. They don’t. Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes.

But, grace… But, mercy… But the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior intervenes and wipes away the guilt. Washes our hands of Christ’s blood. Cleanses us from all unrighteousness, if we only turn to Him in the repentance and faith that He is gracious enough to give us.

Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes, but the grace of God can.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7


This article was originally published at Blogging Theologically. Photo credit: Aaron Armstrong

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Lamentations 3

lam 3 22 23

Lamentations 3

I am the man who has seen affliction
    under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
    into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
    again and again the whole day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
    he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
    with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness
    like the dead of long ago.

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
    he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help,
    he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;
    he has made my paths crooked.

10 He is a bear lying in wait for me,
    a lion in hiding;
11 he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;
    he has made me desolate;
12 he bent his bow and set me
    as a target for his arrow.

13 He drove into my kidneys
    the arrows of his quiver;
14 I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
    the object of their taunts all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitterness;
    he has sated me with wormwood.

16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
    and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
    I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
    so has my hope from the Lord.”

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone in silence
    when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
    and let him be filled with insults.

31 For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.

34 To crush underfoot
    all the prisoners of the earth,
35 to deny a man justice
    in the presence of the Most High,
36 to subvert a man in his lawsuit,
    the Lord does not approve.

37 Who has spoken and it came to pass,
    unless the Lord has commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that good and bad come?
39 Why should a living man complain,
    a man, about the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us test and examine our ways,
    and return to the Lord!
41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands
    to God in heaven:
42 “We have transgressed and rebelled,
    and you have not forgiven.

43 “You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
    killing without pity;
44 you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
    so that no prayer can pass through.
45 You have made us scum and garbage
    among the peoples.

46 “All our enemies
    open their mouths against us;
47 panic and pitfall have come upon us,
    devastation and destruction;
48 my eyes flow with rivers of tears
    because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.

49 “My eyes will flow without ceasing,
    without respite,
50 until the Lord from heaven
    looks down and sees;
51 my eyes cause me grief
    at the fate of all the daughters of my city.

52 “I have been hunted like a bird
    by those who were my enemies without cause;
53 they flung me alive into the pit
    and cast stones on me;
54 water closed over my head;
    I said, ‘I am lost.’

55 “I called on your name, O Lord,
    from the depths of the pit;
56 you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
    your ear to my cry for help!’
57 You came near when I called on you;
    you said, ‘Do not fear!’

58 “You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
    judge my cause.
60 You have seen all their vengeance,
    all their plots against me.

61 “You have heard their taunts, O Lord,
    all their plots against me.
62 The lips and thoughts of my assailants
    are against me all the day long.
63 Behold their sitting and their rising;
    I am the object of their taunts.

64 “You will repay them, O Lord,
    according to the work of their hands.
65 You will give them dullness of heart;
    your curse will be on them.
66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
    from under your heavens, O Lord.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Who is thought to have written Lamentations? What major historical event is being lamented in this book? Why did God allow this event to happen? Which of God’s attributes (mercy, provision, wrath, forgiveness, etc.) does this event showcase?

2. Sometimes our feelings can obscure what we know to be true of God from His word. Consider the phrases, “He shuts out my prayer,” (8) and “my hope from the Lord [has perished]” (18). What are some verses that can bring comfort if we ever feel this way? Which is truth, our feelings or God’s word? Which should we believe? Which should we act upon? If our feelings contradict God’s word, which can we depend upon to be correct?

3. Carefully examine verse 21. This is a transitional verse in which the writer moves from hopelessness and grief to _________. How does he make the transition? What does he “call to mind”? How does he know the things in the subsequent verses?

4. What are some of the attributes of God the writer describes in verses 22-66? Which one does he seem to focus most on?

5. What do verses 39-44 teach us about the relationship between repentance and prayer, God’s wrath, and forgiveness?

Abortion, Gospel

Planned Parenthood: There, But for the Grace of God…

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You walk into your doctor’s office for your annual check up—flu shot, cancer, cholesterol and blood sugar screening, blood pressure check—you know, routine maintenance on the ol’ bod. You’ve chosen this doctor because you don’t have health insurance and he’s kind enough to lower his prices and work with you on a payment plan. His office is clean and bright, beautifully decorated, and the staff is always friendly. You even get a lollipop at the end of each visit.

But this year, as you’re walking down the hall to exam room four, you happen to notice that in exam room three, there’s a playpen in the corner with an adorable baby girl in it, cooing away and playing with a toy.

“Odd,” you think, since this is not a pediatrician’s office. You continue to your own room, don that scratchy paper gown, and wait for the doctor. By the time he comes in and begins the exam, you can no longer contain your curiosity. Whose baby is it? Why is there even a baby in the office?

“Oh, yes,” the doctor says matter of factly, “that baby was abandoned by her parents. Nobody wants her, so when I get finished with your check up, I’m going to torture her to death and then sell her organs to medical researchers.”

Your jaw hits the floor. Your stomach turns. You can’t believe the monstrous words you’ve just heard.

“How could you do such a horrible thing?” you scream over your revulsion. The doctor looks surprised that you should ask.

“It’s really no big deal,” he says. “We only do a few of those a week. The vast majority of my practice is providing health care and counseling for patients like you.”

Let me ask you something—would you use that doctor and think that the care he provides you mitigates his atrocious behavior? I hope not. Yet I have heard people defend Planned Parenthood (an organization which has been torturing babies to death for decades, and, we recently learned, profits from the sale of their organs) because Planned Parenthood ostensibly performs a minimum number of abortions and mainly provides health services, such as the ones mentioned above, to women who need them. Somehow, in these people’s minds, the health care Planned Parenthood provides makes up for the heinous murders they commit day after day.

Does it really all balance out? Of course not.

In fact, let’s say, Planned Parenthood had only ever tortured fifty babies to death (instead of the millions they’ve actually killed). And let’s say they provided free health care to everyone on the planet, cured cancer, and brought about world peace. Those are some wonderful things, but does it erase the fact that they brutally ended fifty innocent lives? Do all those good deeds make up for even one murder?

No. They don’t. Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes. Planned Parenthood’s hands are drenched in blood that all the free health care in the world can’t wash away.

They’re hopelessly guilty. Just like we are.

Apart from Christ, we are Planned Parenthood. We come before God with blood on our hands. Not the blood of millions of babies, but the blood of one child. God’s child. Jesus. We are responsible for His death. It was our sin that caused Him to be tortured to death. Our sin that brutally murdered Him.

“Oh, but it’s no big deal. I’m mainly a good person. The vast majority of my life is spent doing good things and helping people. That totally makes up for those few sins I’ve committed. My good deeds outweigh the bad.”

No. They don’t. Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes.

But, grace… But, mercy… But the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior intervenes and wipes away the guilt. Washes our hands of Christ’s blood. Cleanses us from all unrighteousness, if we only turn to Him in the repentance and faith that He is gracious enough to give us.

Good deeds can never make up for heinous crimes, but the grace of God can.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7


This article was originally published at Blogging Theologically. Photo credit: Aaron Armstrong

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ 2 Samuel 9

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2 Samuel 9

And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”

Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. 10 And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11 Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. 12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


 

Questions to Consider:

1. Who were Saul and Jonathan, and why did David want to show kindness to someone from the house of Saul? (v. 1)

2. The story of David and Mephibosheth is a type and shadow of Christ. How does David’s heart in this story remind you of Jesus’ heart? How do his actions remind you of Jesus’ actions during His earthly ministry?

3. If David is playing the part of Jesus, who does Mephibosheth represent in Jesus’ earthly ministry? How do David and Mephibosheth foreshadow or symbolize what Jesus did for sinners?

4. With what sort of attitude and countenance did Mephibosheth respond to David? (v. 6,8) What does this tell us about our heart attitude as we respond to Christ?

5. In verses 9-13, Mephibosheth, due to David’s kindness, ends up financially comfortable with servants to take care of him. Is this a promise to Christians today that we will be wealthy and comfortable in this life? How do you know? How might Philippians 4:19 and John 16:33 work with verses 9-13?

Sunday School, Trust

Looking Into the Mirror of Christ ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 4-27-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 17 ~ Apr. 20-26
Psalm 121, 123-125, 128-130, 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21, 43, 45, 49, 84-85, 87, 73, 77-78,
2 Samuel 1-4, 1 Chronicles 1-5
Looking Into the Mirror of Christ

What is the purpose of a mirror? It’s for seeing what we look like on the outside. As women, we often look in the mirror to make sure our hair is behaving, to see that our make up is straight, to find out how we look in a certain outfit. But we MH900442449also look into “mirrors” to see what we look like on the inside. Often, the mirrors we turn to in times of trouble or use to measure our self worth—how many friends we have, what others say or think about us, what we think about ourselves, whether people feel sorry for us or compliment us, even the number of “likes” we get on a Facebook status—are like the mirrors in an amusement park fun house. We never get a true reflection of who we are on the inside because the mirror itself is distorted. The only way to get a true reflection is to take our eyes off the distorted mirrors and put them on the perfect mirror of Christ and His word.

Background
We usually think of the book of Psalms as having been written by David, but, in fact, of the 150 psalms, David wrote 73, 50 are anonymous (some possibly written by David), and the others were written by other authors. Psalms was the “hymnal” of biblical times, and, indeed, there are churches even today whose only worship songs are psalms set to music. As with our own worship music, Psalms covers a variety of topics from creation to the attributes and mighty works of God to laments and requests from God. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the more personal psalms from different authors in which the psalmist is crying out to God about his own situation.

Psalm 121, 123

What kind of mirror does the psalmist hold up? (121:1-2, 123:1-2)
When we look into a regular mirror, we see ourselves reflected back. When we look into one of those fun house mt-haunted-mansion-nathan-timmirrors I mentioned, we see a distorted image of ourselves reflected back. But there’s another kind of mirror we can look into. Have you ever been on the “Haunted Mansion” ride at Disney World? At one point in the ride, you find yourself facing a mirror, but what you see reflected back is a hologram (a “ghost”) of one of the people who used to live there.

Where does the psalmist direct us to look in these two passages? To the Lord. Where do we find the Lord? In the mirror of His word. When we look into the mirror of the Word, what do we see? Ourselves? No. Kind of like that “Haunted Mansion” mirror, we see the Lord reflected back in all of His goodness and glory. Our eyes are not to be on ourselves – whether we measure up, whether we’re important enough or good enough or worthwhile human beings— but on the Lord.

What do we notice about the Lord’s reflection?

The Lord is sufficient in all things (121:2-4, 123:1)
He made heaven and earth (121:2), so He is all powerful (omnipotent) and capable of rightly handling all situations. He neither sleeps nor slumbers (121:3-4), so He is all knowing (omniscient). He is aware of and involved in every aspect of life. He is “enthroned in the heavens” (123:1). What is the rank of someone who is “enthroned”? A king. A king has sovereign jurisdiction over every inch of his kingdom. He has the final word in all things, and no one outranks him. What comprises God’s kingdom? The universe. He has perfect, final, and sovereign jurisdiction over every inch of the universe, and no one outranks Him. He is complete and sufficient. This is why we need only look to Him for all things, including a right view of ourselves.

Because He is sufficient in all things, the Lord is our help, stability, protection, provider, and mercy for the needs of our souls (121:1, 3, Psalm 62:2, 121:5-8, 123:2-4)

The Lord is our help (121:1). Notice that the psalmist does not qualify that statement. It is blanket, all encompassing. The Lord is our help in all situations. Others may turn away or be incapable when we need help. He will not.

The Lord is our stability (121:3). While the storms of life may rage around us and try to blow us over, He holds us firmly to Himself, the rock of our salvation (62:2). People are not stable. They can let us down and fail to be there for us. God will not.

The Lord is our eternal protector (121:5-8). He keeps us through the difficult times. Notice that the psalmist does not say that God will do away with the sun, the moon, evil, or even death, but that God will be our shade, he will protect from destruction by the sun and moon, and that He will keep our lives. He will keep our going out and coming in – every step we take—from this time forth and forever more. People are not capable of preserving us in this way, but God is.

The Lord is our provider (123:2). Just as an earthly slave would look to his master to provide everything: food, shelter, clothing, health care, etc., we are to look to and depend on our kind and gracious Master who never fails to provide us with all we need. It is not the job of friends or family to provide us with self worth or fulfill our need for emotional support. That is God’s job, and He does it perfectly. That is why we look to Him for those things.

The Lord is our mercy (123:2-4). God sees all aspects of our lives, and He alone is able to provide us with merciful relief from difficult situations, or merciful grace to see us through those situations. And He’s not only capable of doing so, He will do so. Notice (2) that the psalmist doesn’t say “our eyes look to the Lord…hoping, perchance, that He might have mercy,” but “till He has mercy.” The psalmist is confident that it is God’s intention to show mercy. People cannot alleviate our circumstances or carry us through them, nor would they always be willing to do so even if they could, in fact, sometimes the people we would look to in difficult times can actually be the cause of those difficult times (4). Only God can mercifully take away or see us through tough situations.

As we can see, people are often undependable or incapable of giving us what we need emotionally, and completely unable to provide for our spiritual needs. This is why God’s word never directs us to look to the mirror of ourselves or to others for our inner needs or fulfillment, but rather to the mirror of His word and the reflection of Christ. Only God is capable of being, and wants to be, our sufficiency in all areas of life. We must look to God and depend on Him for these things.

Psalm 77

In times of trouble, we look back to the mighty deeds of God in the past.
The first nine verses of this psalm are a lament. Asaph doesn’t explain exactly what’s going on in his life—and maybe that’s beneficial to us because we can all relate to what he’s feeling here regardless of the specific circumstances—but he’s going through a really gut-wrenching time.

Where does Asaph turn? He starts out determined to cry out to the Lord over his situation. He knows in his mind that the Lord “will hear me” (1), but as he begins to pray, he takes his eyes off the Lord, begins to focus on the problems themselves (3- I moan…my spirit faints), and gets overwhelmed. Notice that when he looks back to the mirror of better circumstances (5) or happier times (6- “my song in the night”) or looks to himself (6- let me meditate in my heart) for the solution to his troubles, he only despairs more (7-9).

Finally, Asaph realizes that the only thing that will help is to focus on the Lord Himself (9- His hand), His power (9- “Right hand” is a metaphor for strength), and His deliverance in years gone by (9- the years). He looks into the mirror of God’s steadfast faithfulness.

Asaph doesn’t just recount the details (11- deeds) of what God has done in the past, he also recalls that God’s works evoke a sense of wonder (11,14) for both those who witnessed them and those who think back on them. And Asaph doesn’t merely recall and regurgitate the details of these deeds, he ponders them. He meditates on them (12). He turns them over and over in his mind, considering how they reflect God’s might (12, 14), His holiness, greatness, and superiority to other gods (13). Asaph thinks about how God redeemed His people (15) and would redeem him from his troubles, God’s 1185602_570889882972492_1155182179_npower over nature (16-18) and His power over Asaph’s situation. And even though Israel couldn’t see God Himself, He still led them (19-20), the same way he would lead Asaph, though unseen. If God was powerful enough to redeem Israel, have power over nature, and lead Israel, He was powerful enough to handle Asaph’s situation.

When we face difficult times, Asaph sets a great example for us. We look not to ourselves, others, or circumstances, we look to God, determined to cry out to Him. We ponder His wonder, holiness, power, and greatness. We look at what He has done in the past in His word and in our own lives, knowing that if He was powerful enough to handle those situations, He is powerful enough to handle the present one. We remember that as God has been faithful in the past, He will continue to be faithful in the future.

Psalm 130

There is hope in the Lord (1 John 1:9)
Finally, we turn to the Lord, because in Him, and in no other, is hope.

There is hope of His forgiveness (2-4). When we cry out to God for mercy, He has promised to forgive us (1 John). With Christ, we do not have to stand hopeless and condemned in our sin.

There is hope in His word (5). Not only can we find hope in God’s great and mighty deeds from the past in His word, but we can also find hope in the attributes of God described by the Bible (His goodness, holiness, mercy, compassion, etc.), and in the promises He has made in His word (He will provide, He hears our prayers, He will never leave us, etc.), because we know He will never break them. We cannot find this kind of perfect hope in others.

There is hope because the Lord is trustworthy (5-6). “I wait,” the psalmist says, “more than the watchmen for the morning.” The watchmen knew the morning was coming. How much more does the psalmist know that the Lord will answer him with hope?

There is hope in God’s steadfast love and His plentiful redemption (7-8). The psalmist wasn’t hoping for fleeting things like riches or temporary happiness. He was looking at the big picture. The spiritual picture: God’s eternal love and His redemption from sin. This is our hope as well.

As we face difficult times, like the psalmist, we must keep our eyes focused on the Lord as He is reflected in the mirror of His word, not on our own reflection or the way others reflect us. The Lord is the only one powerful enough to give us the help, stability, protection, provision, and mercy to meet the needs of our souls. Others will let us down, but as we look to God’s faithfulness in the past, we find hope for the present and the future.