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Lord, on a day of so much pain and struggle and trial and persecution and suffering in Charleston, we seek you,  Lord.

http://bible.com/116/ezk.18.23.nlt
Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign lord . Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.
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His ways are so much higher than our own. We see the world in black and white of what we think is right or wrong, or we see the world in the many colors of our emotions – green with envy,  red with anger,  blue with sadness.

But the Lord knows the fine and perfect line of eternal justice. He walks the narrow path that is above reproach or rebuke. He doesn’t seek retribution,  He offers salvation or judgement,  and let’s us choose.

And yes, it is hard for us to wrap or finite minds around the infinite wisdom of how He can be All powerful creator and just and merciful and loving, but there is a written Word of God and a living Holy Spirit of God that teaches us when we listen.

On this day, we know that the enemy has laid siege to Charleston. On this day, we know that suffering and pain is real. We know that God’s will is being served. Yes,  even as hard as it is to accept in times of struggle,  the Lord’s will is being done. Whether it is trial or judgement, I am not foolish enough to claim myself wise enough to make that call. But I do know that even the work of the enemy will in the end serve the Lord’s purposes.

So today, my hope is that we will know the Lord.  My hope is that the sweet fragrance of the fruit of His Holy Spirit – love,  joy,  peace,  patience,  kindness,  goodness,  faithfulness,  gentleness, and yes,  long suffering – will be found in us and in those in Charleston who are the Children of God,  shining the light of Jesus Christ into this world and demonstrating the savory salt of a life touched by Christ.

Don’t let us run to anger and hatred and foolishness,  those are the tools of the enemy. Don’t let us fall into the enemy’s hands. Let us cling fast to our Lord and Savior. Let us weep with those who weep. Let us cry out to the Lord with those who anguish. Let us comfort those who need comforting. Let us love those who are without love. Let us pray for and plead over all,  that they might find your grace,  or know your judgement – and that both will be a testimony to the glory and honor and power of your name.

http://bible.com/116/ecc.3.1-8.nlt
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

It is time, my friends. Make way for the Lord. Prepare yourselves for His return. Repent,  for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

http://bible.com/116/psa.31.1-24.nlt
O  Lord ,
I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me, for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me;
rescue me quickly.
Be my rock of protection,
a fortress where I will be safe.
You are my rock and my fortress.
For the honor of your name,
lead me out of this danger.
Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,
for I find protection in you alone.
I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, Lord ,
for you are a faithful God.
I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the Lord .
I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.
Have mercy on me, Lord ,
for I am in distress.
Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within.
I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street,
they run the other way.
I am ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot.
I have heard the many rumors about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life.
But I am trusting you, O  Lord ,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
Don’t let me be disgraced, O  Lord ,
for I call out to you for help.
Let the wicked be disgraced;
let them lie silent in the grave.
Silence their lying lips—
those proud and arrogant lips that accuse the godly.
How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you.
You lavish it on those who come to you for protection,
blessing them before the watching world.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence,
safe from those who conspire against them.
You shelter them in your presence,
far from accusing tongues.
Praise the Lord ,
for He has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love.
He kept me safe when my city was under attack.
In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the Lord !”
But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.
Love the Lord , all you godly ones!
For the Lord protects those who are loyal to him,
but he harshly punishes the arrogant.
So be strong and courageous,
all you who put your hope in the Lord !