If you’re hanging with us with your daily prayers….pat yourself on the back. A healthy habit is forming. AMEN! I continue to pray that the Lord blesses your obedience. I hope by now you are realizing and experiencing the fact that when you pray, YOU WIN. When you pray, YOU benefit. For me here are some benefits I’ve experienced… more peace, less worry, more confidence with decisions, a sense of balance, a longer fuse, some eternal perspective. How about you? What benefits can you point to? Any light bulbs that turned on for you? Any insight about your circle? Thank you for the courage to share publicly. When you do, you encourage others.
Stay tuned in. Be alert. Listen for His voice.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Have you ever felt as if God is fed up with you? Perhaps you feel like a slacker when it comes to your Christian walk. Perhaps you missed a few days in our prayer challenge. Maybe you wish you could rewind the clock and go back to when things were better, you were more consistent, you had things under control. If so, today’s verse offers us words of encouragement.
The prophet Isaiah spoke these words to Israel during a time when they were in captivity. They had lost everything. Because of their rebellion, they assumed God wanted nothing to do with them anymore.
Because my life looks so different than MY ORIGINAL PLAN, it can sometimes feel like a wasteland. It can be tempting to think I am beyond His goodness. But God does His best work when we step aside and give Him our wastelands. He is in the redemption business. God can transform your desert into a field of blessing. He can bring new life from dry bones.
No matter your past, God has already set into motion a new direction and perhaps even a new purpose for your life.
Dear Jesus, I believe You’re working something new in me and in my circle. Help me recognize Your activity. Grant me a grateful heart toward Your mercy that never gives up on me. Amen.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11 is a dense chapter and the Bible’s Faith hall of fame. In it the writer lists hero after hero whose faith was rewarded — who received strength and power to do extraordinary things with remarkable results, all for the glory of God. But then, don’t miss this… beginning in Hebrews 11:35, the last six verses of this chapter tell the rest of the story. And it’s not so pretty.
35“But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” 39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
In my opinion, the end of the chapter is where the rubber meets the road. After all, faith is NOT about getting the results we want, faith is about trusting God in spite of our circumstances. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. “Faith”, as Martin Luther King said, “is taking the first step even when we can’t see the whole staircase.”
There is only ONE WAY a believer can reconcile a world in which bad things happen to good people with a God she can trust? What is that one way? As most of the verses in Hebrews chapter 11 begin…. By Faith.
For further understanding I focus on this scripture in my blog article The Magic Glasses.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
All things are not good. Traumatic brain injury is not good. Cancer is not good. Drug addiction is not good. Autism is not good. Terrorism is not good. How is it possible to stand on this promise when there is so much NOT GOOD in our world.
God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8,9) Just because it makes no sense to us, doesn’t make this promise any less true. Amazingly God takes all things that are bad and puts them into a cauldron of His wisdom and love. And scripture tells us, if you love God, the result is good.
That sounds crazy! I know it does. And I agree.
But I stand firmly on this truth, trusting Him to deliver on His promise, in His time, in His way.
If you’ve experienced (or are experiencing) deep suffering or great heartbreak, with all sensitivity, I GET IT. This promise in Romans is not an insensitive platitude for you to buck up. This is not a bumper sticker pat answer. It is the living word of God. And salve to a wounded soul.
While I’ve endured the fiery trials of life, I’ve grown to love this promise. Here is why…
1. I can COUNT on God to use all things. Every. Single. Time. Verse 28 says ALL THINGS. That means… wait for it. ALL THINGS. Big things, little things, medium sized things. ALL THINGS.
2. God is Sovereign. In those times when IT seems completely out of control, it is NEVER out of HIs control. For a recovering control freak, that is good news. God is not dead. He isn’t tired or overworked. God never diverts his attention from me and my big or my little concerns. He will bring order out of my chaos. I can DEPEND on it.
3. This heartache is NOT for NOTHING. There is PURPOSE in my pain. There is reason for this suffering. God uses everything. Nothing gets wasted. He uses every tear, every injustice, every broken promise, every car accident, every devastating diagnosis, every natural disaster for His purpose.
To claim this awesome promise there is a catch… What’s the catch? You must have some skin in the game. The scripture says you must love God. If you don’t love God, you can’t claim this promise.
Finally, one other important fact to notice. In verse 29 God gives us an indication of what He is up to. God’s good is not our comfort, our happiness and certainly not an easy life. God’s good is to work in us to conform us to the image of His Son. The promise is that one day we will be like the Jesus Christ. And that is good. It will be all be worth it. In fact, the way I see it, this life on earth… HURTS SO GOOD.
For further study of this difficult theology, read these articles Please use this Mess and What are you Waiting For
Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Genesis, the first book of the Bible is where it all begins. God created this world, and “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But it wasn’t long and sin entered the garden, this good world, bringing brokenness into all our relationships. But at the close of Genesis, Joseph notes the saving work of God that reverses this breakdown.
How powerful is God? God can take harmful intentions and use them to accomplish His will. God can take what was meant to harm and use it to save. God can take a symbol of death–the cross–and make it a symbol of life.
How do we deal with the brokenness of this life? As you think about your circle claim this promise and adopt a Genesis 50:20 vision. It is so easy to get discouraged and disappointed when things don’t go as we would like or expect. It is so easy to think that the darkness of sin and death has won. Genesis 50:20 says… don’t you dare assume that! Instead this scripture tells us to correct our perception.
In the end, no matter what, God wins. Period.
Dear God, I praise you for your Omnipotence. I’m amazed that You use the bad in this world for your good purposes. Forgive me for my impatience as I wait for your deliverance. Forgive me for my incessant need to understand what you’re doing in my life. I am so very thankful you chose me. You chose me and I am forever on the WINNING team. Please help me to claim this truth today and everyday. And help me to live like I believe it. Amen.
Read more of how I have wrestled with this truth in this blog article. Bozo the Resilient
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
If there was a scripture passage that really bugs me… this would be it. And yet, often God reminds me of how important it is. “Consider it pure joy”… In my humanness I want to say, Come on God, get real. Or in the words of John McEnroe, “you can’t be serious!”
God is perfectly serious. And once again, God is right on this one too.
I think of faith as a muscle. For it to be strengthened you have to use it. How do you use it? In situations that require it. I am reminded of this every time I go snow skiing. It is a sport I love, but because I don’t enjoy it consistently, when I do, I re-discover muscles I didn’t know I had. The same is true with your faith muscle. In the trials of life, your faith muscle gets a work out and you re-discover muscles you didn’t know you had.
Often people tell me how they admire my faith. The way I see it, that is a direct result of the trials of life I have had to persevere.
Read again verse 4. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. God’s wisdom becomes evident. There is divine purpose for the trials we endure. And God’s timing is critical to the best outcome. The perfect outcome.
Years ago I climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, 19,341 ft. It was an accomplishment for sure. And one that required perseverance that I didn’t know that I had. What if, I stopped before reaching the top? Not only would I have missed the view, I would have robbed myself of the work that perseverance was accomplishing in me. Instead I have a sweet memory and evidence of grit that I’ve called upon many times in life since.
Sitting bedside while Ian was in a coma battling for his life was horrific. BUT… the intimacy I shared with the Lord has not been rivaled since. Because the outcome was completely out of my hands, my only “job” was to endure; to persevere. If I could have stopped the trial, I would have. But, looking back, I’m thankful that perseverance finished its work because of what I’ve received. (mature and complete, not lacking anything)
Are you enduring a trial? Do you desperately want it to end? Claim this promise even if it feels a bit salty coming from your lips. Because the Lord wants the best for you… He wants you to be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Because I’ve struggled with this lesson, it has come up often in my blog articles. If you wish to dig deeper, read these…
James 1:5 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
How often do you come before God and ask for His wisdom? Perhaps you can relate to me. I KNOW my circle. I KNOW what I think is best for my circle. I KNOW how I want God to intervene in my situation to impact my circle.
His wisdom is different than our knowledge. His wisdom may be counter-intuitive. His wisdom may turn logic on its head. His wisdom requires that we trust Him.
Ouch. If you’re anything like me, it is just easier to keep on keeping on with our knowledge than it is to get quiet, slow down and listen for His wisdom.
I recall when my kids were very young. I could get their attention by raising my voice. And I’m guilty of doing that more often than I care to admit. BUT… when I had something very important (WISE) for them to hear… like when I was tucking them in at night to say their prayers, I would often whisper. I wonder which method was heard?
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God. After doing that, have you taken a posture with Him to hear His still small voice, His whisper? Try that today as you pray about your circle.