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Posts Tagged ‘Trusting God in Difficulty’

The Crucible of Love

 

Love is easy when it blesses.  

 

But what happens to you when love lacks benefit, becomes a cross to bear, or a curse upon you?

 

Oswald Chambers asks a question which causes me to pause: 

Have you come to the place where God can withdraw His blessings and it does not affect your trust in Him? (1)

 

I would be lying if I claimed that a withdrawal of God’s blessing would not affect my trust in Him.  

 

This is why I cling to these verses:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me; His rod and His staff, they comfort me.

 

Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (2)

 

In those times when doubt has crept into my heart and mind these verses remind me that God never withdraws His blessing from me.  

 

I may perceive God has withdrawn His blessing, but He does not.  

 

God sends His blessings in comforts and in difficulties, in joy and in sorrow, in praise and in discipline, in gain and in loss. 

 

Knowing this sustains me when His love is greater than a warm fuzzy for the day.

 

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 23:4, Romans 8:39, and Hebrews 4:16.

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“Isn’t it glorious to know that no matter how unjust something may be, even when it seems to have come from Satan himself, by the time it reaches us it is God’s will for us and will ultimately work to our good?” (1)

 

How would your life change if you assumed everything that happened to you was God’s will for you?

 

Everything?  

 

Yes, everything!

 

It’s a question that gives me long pause and few words.

 

Anytime someone glibly says, “It is God’s will” in the face of tragedy or disaster, I cringe.  

 

When bad things happen, questions flood my heart: 

Would God? 

Could God? 

Did God? 

Why God?

 

If it was God’s will and He would, could, and did, how would your life change?

 

I’d turn to God.

 

I’d cry out to Him?  

 

I’d stand with Habakkuk and wait for God to answer me. (See Habakkuk 1:1-2:4)

 

I’d cling to these scriptures:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” 

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” 

 

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” 

 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2)

 

On the other hand, how would your life change if you assumed everything that happened to you was NOT God’s will for you?

 

In the center of the circle of the will of God I stand: 

There can come no second causes, all must come from His dear hand.

God is Love, and God is faithful, so in perfect Peace I rest. (1)

 

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, L. B. E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 311). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 23:4, John 3:16, Romans 8:28, and Romans 8:38-39.

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Faith grows during storms (1)

Why is it that some people’s faith only grows during storms and crisis?

Can’t faith grow in quiet daylight?  Grass does!

Rarely does anyone call me and say:

“Pastor, life is good!  Do you have guidance for scripture I should study or books I can read during these good ol’days, so I can grow in faith?” 

When life is good we are convinced we do not need God.  Since there are no pressing afflictions or infections that need supernatural healing, why bother God.  Isn’t He busy with others?

I learned to sail in calm seas, when the wind was gentle and the water waved gracefully below the hull of my boat.  If I had not learned to sail in calm seas, I would have never been able to sail through storms.

Perhaps this is why we panic and are afraid when the storms of life come our way.  We cannot hear God in the storm, if we have not dwelt with Him during the day.

While we draw on our faith during difficulty, we fail to build up our faith during prosperity.  You only have money to withdraw on a rainy day, if you made deposits before.

David’s guidance “be still and know that I am God” (2) is spoken when life is in an upheaval.  Yet his wisdom should be heeded when we are wandering in green pastures and drinking from still waters.

Lois Cheney asks:

Does anyone ever meander with God, sharing fun, thoughts, and silences?  (3)

Our best friendships are built on lazy days, when we simply spend time with others, chatting, talking, listening, and loving each other, letting time pass in the quiet breeze

Friendships built during days of leisure are the friendships which sustain us during seasons of difficulty.

Your fair-weather-friendship with Jesus, will sustain you during a gale.

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, L. B. E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 269). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. Psalm 46:10.
  3. Cheney, Lois A. (2005-03-01). God is No Fool (pp. 185-186). Midpoint Trade Books – A. Kindle Edition.

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Inner peace through an implicit trust in the love of God 

is the real evidence of a mature Christian faith. (1)

Inner peace eludes us because we pursue it in venues in which it cannot be found.  It will never be found at the store, in the office, or under a trophy.  It can not be purchased, achieved, or won.  It can only be received.

Inner peace can only be found in the company of faith.  Thus, it is accessible to all.  You do not need privilege, wealth, or luck to have it.  In fact, these things have prevented many people from finding inner peace. 

My friend Earl had inner peace.  

In the eight years I knew him, I never saw him out of bed.  He spoke between shots of air delivered to his lungs by a ventilator.  He could not tend to any of his personal needs.  

While Earl was was totally dependent upon others to provide all of his physical and worldly needs, his mind and heart had been spared the disease which ravaged his body.

Earl could have given up, but he did not.

He could have instructed his doctors to pull-the-plug, but he did not.

He could have spewed anger, despair, and resentment on anyone who entered his room, but he did not.

Instead Earl was the happiest man I ever met.  

In contrast to Job who moped, whined, and raged when his worldly possessions and loves were stolen by an evil twist of fate, Earl smiled, praised God, and rejoiced after disease robbed him of anything which looked like quality of life.

Earl had a peace which surpassed all understanding because he had faith in God.  This peace, his companion in faith, guarded his heart and his mind. (2)

Earl’s faith grew while his body decayed.  

Earl knew that his body would not last forever, it does not for any of us.  Thus, he placed his whole life into the hands of Jesus.  When troubles came and health declined, Earl found peace not in little things, but in the great and wondrous grace of God.

When Earl died, we sang Horatio Spafford’s great hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul” (Click the title to hear this great hymn.)

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 with my soul. (3)

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  1. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.
  2. Philippians 4:7.
  3. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.

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In this life, we hear the sounds, not the symphony. (1)

We never see the whole picture of life.  Even in this Information Age of digital technology,  scientific discovery, and higher education we only know a fraction of all there is to know.

If you are in the market to buy a new car you can visit on-line and real-time car dealers, research Consumers Report, read on-line reviews, test drive, and crunch all the numbers, but at the end of the day you will never know if you made the best decision.

Buy the Volkswagen and be left wondering if the Ford was the better deal and car, if the VW brought you greater joy, if this and if that … The list of qualifiers goes on and on.  You never know.

JP Morgan lost $2 billion and, according to latest reports, may lose up to $9.6 billion on a specific complex trade of credit swaps, derivatives, economic voodoo.  Instead another trader out-guessed them and took them to the cleaners.

Our biggest mistakes are made in life when we believe we are hearing the full symphony, rather than a collection of sounds.  We listen to a distant drumbeat, add some imaginary notes, compose lyrics, and make a decision.  Then we dance to our music, hoping it leads to life.

The Apostle Paul spoke about our blind leap into life:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face-to-face. (2)

So what should we do when confronted with information over-load in a world where we never see the whole picture.  My counsel is to follow the most trustworthy source.

In my life, I have only found one trustworthy source of information and guidance for living.  That source is the Bible, the Holy Scriptures of the Christian faith.  It provides wisdom sufficient for making any decision you need to make in life.

The Bible is the infallible Word of God.  The Bible will never fail you.  In my own life, when I have faithfully lived according to the truth of the Bible, my life has gone well.  When I have listened to the world’s music or my own, my dance has turned into a limp.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (3)

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 180). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:12.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 119:105.

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Life is a Battle!

A friend told me recently, “I avoid conflict! I’ll do anything to get out of conflict!”

I was tempted to add to his last sentence, “… except kill yourself.”

Can you live life and avoid conflict or battles?

In my devotional reading today I read these two quotes:

Life is not victory, but battle. (1)

Combat comes before victory. (2)

The sum of the two could read: 

Life is a battle which precedes victory!

The presence of evil and the reality of sin assure us that life is a battle between good and evil.  This is the story of life … Good and Evil are in a battle to the finish.  Only one can win the battle.    

People often complain that the Bible, especially the Old Testament and The Book of Revelation, is a gruesome battlefield which does not seem befitting for the people of God. 

It’s a valid complaint because the battle of Good and Evil is the story of The Bible.  We often forget that the cosmic battle between Good and Evil is fought everyday on earth, as well as in the heavens.

Thus, the ultimate question of life is,

“Which will be the victor? Good or evil?”

I believe both will win.  

Evil will win the battle of the flesh and Good will win the battle of the cosmos.  

However, since the Eternal will always outlive the Temporal, I am casting my lot with the God, the Eternal Good! 

Martin Luther wrote in his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God:

Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, 

we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.  

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; 

his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; 

one little word shall fell him.

– – –

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth; 

the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru him who with us sideth.  

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; 

the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; 

his kingdom is forever.

Yes, life is a battle!  This is the bad news.

The Good News is: Jesus wins!

It’s good to know who will win!  

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  1. Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 239). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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Take the Journey!

Whether considering the deep mysteries or the everyday matters of life, we have a tendency to out-think God.

  • Is this God’s plan?
  • Why does God allow this?
  • Is this exactly what scripture means?
  • Where will this lead me?
  • Is God testing me?

Some ponder while others go.  

While I enjoy reflecting, speculating, wondering, and thinking about God’s will and His ways, I recognize that at the end of the day I must act in faith.

Faith is moving forward into the unknown.  

Faith never sees the way, it only sees God.

The prophet Habakkuk teaches, The saints live by faith!” (1)

I appreciate his emphasis on LIVE!  Get on with your life!  Trust God even when you do not understand His ways. 

Let actual circumstances be what they may be.  Look to Jesus.  Trust Him and His love for you.  Live knowing that He will bring you safely to shore.  

Jesus will do that!  While He will not keep your life free from trouble and uncertainty, He will remain at the helm with you during the storms and through the night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. 

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in 

from this time forth and forevermore. (2)

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  1. Habakkuk 2:4.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 121:7–8.

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