Friday, April 28, 2017

He Could Have But He Didn't

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?” Matthew 26:53. “He saved others…but he can’t save himself!  He’s the King of Israel!  Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him.” Matthew 27:42.

When I think of how challenging faith can be I am reminded that sometimes it requires action from us while other times it requires us to wait and watch.  These verses show that Jesus could have interfered with God’s will and purpose for His life, but instead allowed the circumstances to play out.  He knew that He carried the power of God within Him, and could have come down from the cross.  He fully understood that enduring the mockery and hatred was all part of the plan to carry out the will of God.  Every ounce of belief on His part was knowing that the circumstances before Him were the divine fulfillment of a promise previously given. 

We all have been ordained to walk out this part of the earthly calendar.  We have all been given a purpose in this walk that impacts the kingdom.  Sometimes, God calls us to act and other times He calls us to ‘remain in the inevitable.’  While others tempt us to ‘come down off the cross’ and agree with them…to join them…to deny God’s command…we are to stay committed to God.  We are to trust Him with our circumstances and have confidence that whatever He brings to pass must be critical for our spiritual development and purpose.  ‘If we have walked with God for any length of time, we have each probably faced times when faith required us not to act when everything within us wanted to take action.’ Believing God, Beth Moore, p. 92

It is when we are aligned with God’s activity that man cannot hurt us.  He will fight our battles for us.  When we are living out the circumstances that God has determined for our lives He will give us everything we need to triumph over those times.  Just like with Jesus, God will provide a way to gain victory over our suffering.  We can count on Him to save, rescue, redeem and resurrect.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waiting in our Tents

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” Hebrews 11:8.

We all have testimonies that show what God has done, but Hebrews 11 is where God testifies about what man has done through faith. It is where God stands up before people and recalls those believers who, to this day, still are stand outs. Can you even imagine God calling your name before others as one who stands out in His mind when the subject of faith comes up? What made Abraham’s faith so unforgettable? What separated him from others in his time? It was his ability to discern a future promise from God and be willing to receive it on God’s timeframe and in God’s way. He didn’t run up ahead…he didn’t lag behind…he didn’t give up because it was taking too long. He moved according to what and where God said, and ‘set up tent’ in a future blessing that was invisible to him at the time.

I know that I am living in the ‘receive later’ land as God has shown me a glimpse of a future promised land. I know that in all of my impatience, foundations are being built, the framework is being secure and the garden is being planted for the harvest. Waiting is the most frustrating activity that feels anything but active. I suspect that many of you on the other side of this screen are waiting to receive something up ahead…a job…a spouse…a baby…a healing…a miracle. We must not take waiting lightly, after all God constantly waits on us…to believe…to spend time with Him. ‘Time by itself does nothing but grow us old. What we do with time makes the difference. God uses time to prepare us to build only what lasts with what we’re given. Based on Christ’s example, God our Father calls us to make contributions of quality, not just quantity. God created time and never wastes it. We alone waste it when our impatience to receive hinders our preparation to know when and what to do with it.” Believing God, Beth Moore, p. 87.

So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.’ Isaiah 30:18.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

But God...

But God remembered…and he sent a wind and the waters receded…the tops of the mountains became visible.” Genesis 8:1.

The first three words of this verse fall on me this morning with such weight. This is the chapter where God redeems all things after the flood has destroyed everything that wasn’t protected in the ark. Noah’s family and everything God chose were dry as a bone inside as the storms raged against them on the outside. The ark must have rocked and swayed…been lifted up in the front one moment and crashed down the next moment. Noah was safely isolated and insulated because not only did he believe God, but he agreed with God. Noah was outnumbered by evil people in the world, and was ridiculed by them for believing God’s message. This verse represents all things promised by God, through God and proven by God. This verse is the final word against man’s flesh and desires. God’s remembrance was followed up with action, and then evidence.

Who needs God to remember something this morning? Who is waiting on the wind of change? Who is on their tip-toes trying to see any sign of the mountaintops? I would say every one of us fall in the category. God initiates change, sends His power to accomplish it and then reveals His glory through it. We must build a spiritual ark around us to ensure protection from the winds of adversity, the deception of sin and the display of darkness. We can count on seasons of deluges when all we can do is wait. We must build our arks before the flood by hammering the Word into our hearts, by covering our minds in prayer, and by using the adhesiveness of faith to hold it all together. Then we believe…we agree…we wait for what seems like forever. And then one day, the rain sounds a little lighter, and the thunder sounds more distant.

And then WE remember the most important thing of all…God remembers…and He sends…and our outcomes become visible. Praise God for being God!

Putting Our Spiritual House in Order

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death…‘This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.' ‘Remember O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion’…‘the LORD says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you…I will add 15 years to your life.’” 2 Kings 20:1-6.

Sin and illness were born through the fall of Adam and Eve. It was never a part of God’s plan but quickly became the center part of existence. Throughout the Bible some of the most fervent prayers have been written and spoken on behalf of healing illnesses. King Hezekiah was living a rich and full life, but began experiencing troubling symptoms. He continued to grow sicker and weaker daily until it seemed that the inevitable was upon him. He was given the news that things were as dire as he thought and that the end was near. I doubt he had little strength left, but what he did possess he gave in fellowship to God. He wasn’t ready to leave his life, and he had enough confidence in God’s grace and goodness to ask for more time. We are only given a snapshot of his prayer, but a what a beautiful prayer it was. It was a reminiscing prayer of the time he had shared with God over the years. It was a prayer where he reminded God of how much he had served and loved Him with his whole heart. It was a God-centered prayer from a man who knew God was first and center. It was a prayer that moved the heart of God to healing.

We all have experienced that phone call…that text…that decision out of our control. We have all had those ‘drop to our knees’ moments where God becomes the central part of our days. We seek Him wholeheartedly asking for more time…a different outcome…a different plan. God hears every one of our prayers, so why wouldn’t we ask Him for what our hearts desire? He gives us the authority and invitation to approach Him with our needs, petitions and requests. But, first and foremost He wants our intimacy with Him apart from our desires. Just as we want joyful daily fellowship with our loved ones He also wants to be more than a God of crisis. He wants to be a God of everything. My grandmother used to say that God is the God of everything or He is the God of nothing.

We may not get everything for which we pray as a result of our walk, but we are guaranteed the full abundance of Jesus to face every circumstance in which we are called to walk. We must get our spiritual houses in order if we are to access the life giving promises of God.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Faith...It Hurts So Good

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The other day when I was walking I ran into a sweet friend whose mother had recently transitioned into the arms of Jesus.  It was the first time I saw her since her mom’s homegoing and I can only imagine the pain of that temporary separation.  As we were talking about it, she mistakenly said ‘Faith hurts’ and quickly corrected it to ‘Faith helps.’  We hugged and parted ways but I kept thinking about that statement…faith hurts.  I don’t think it is far-fetched to say that faith can hurt.
Faith tells us that we will see our loved ones again…but the walk hurts.  Faith tells us that our prodigal child will return someday…but the landscape still appears vacant for now.  Faith tells us to believe that God will provide…but the bank account is empty.  Faith looks around for hope when our hearts ache for resolution…but our circumstances mock us.  Faith can hurt because we know in our hearts that God can remove or create any situation to relieve our suffering.  Christ had more faith than we can ever imagine but His life was peppered with pain, rejection, suffering, abandonment and eventually death.  But because of Christ, hurt and healing can co-exist in the hearts of His believers.
We can hurt but through faith we are comforted.  We can fear but through faith we are confident.  We can plan but through faith we are guided.  Faith takes courage and devoted loyalty to God as we face the tribulations of this world.  Faith sees our loved ones left on this side of heaven when our hearts ache for those on the other side.  Faith is grateful for the blessings that we enjoy today.  Faith remembers the memories of yesterday as it slathers a balm across the fresh scars of separation.  Faith takes chaos and brings order into our lives.
Faith painfully believes…sacrificially loves…fearfully hopes.  Our faith increases through the hurt, sharing in His suffering, but with peace that transcends anything we could possible understand.  Faith is the fruit of our fellowship with our Father. 
Faith…it hurts so good.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Are You the One?

Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Luke 7:19

If you have been following Jesus any length of time you most probably have either thought this subconsciously, or felt it in your heart.  Paraphrased:  ‘If you are God and you love me why didn’t you act?  Should I look to other means to accomplish what I want accomplished?  Are you really who you say you are and work everything to my good?  Can I really trust You?’  These are tough questions for us to ask God, who is able and capable but sometimes does not move mountains that stand in our way.  God has been hearing these sentiments for centuries as John the Baptist asked in Luke.  John was imprisoned for his message, and had become discouraged and even filled with doubt. 

There have been times in my life when I really felt I’ve been led by God to believe one way about a resolution in which I had been praying.  Then the day comes, my anticipation and expectation is high, my faith soars, my heart races and then…the sun goes down…the outcome never happened…heaven is silent…I am left with broken pieces laying around me.  I used to be devastated and feel abandoned but the more I know Jesus, the more I believe that what He impresses on my heart is cumulative and progressive.  He does not mislead us or break promises, but rather gives us premature insight so that when the picture is revealed, all our leadings will make sense.  I have tried to be more like the men who King Nebuchadnezzar promised to throw into the fire.  Their message to the king?  ‘But even if he does not [rescue from the fire], we want you to know…that we will not serve…or worship the image you have set up.’ Daniel 3:18.   Even if God doesn’t…I will still worship Him.

Images are being cast daily in all our lives, and it is so easy to worship other images when we feel disappointed.  We worship alcohol, we worship drugs, we worship material purchases, we worship bitterness and unforgiveness.  ‘John experienced the most excruciating dilemma any devoted child of God faces…pain from the searing of the heart when God has not lived up to your expectations…it seems the deeper we love God, the deeper the potential for devastation when He doesn’t intervene as we know He can.’ Believing God, p. 69.  When our God meets our prayers with no or not yet, we must trust Him outside of our circumstances and give God room to move.  He invites us to ask Him for certain things, but we must continue to trust Him if He doesn’t act. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Unanswered Prayers

“‘The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’” De 31:2. “The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house…” 2 Samuel 7:11b.
I recall feeling very timid and cautious in my prayers after Beth died when asking for healing for Daddy. My prayers for his healing were strong on my lips but weak in my heart. After all, my prayers had not been answered in the manner which I had desired. Beth wasn’t healed on earth, and I had to accept that God’s will trumped my prayers. So, it took quite some time to gain the confidence to pray like it would be answered…to tell that mountain to move from here to there…to believe in advance that I had received something. I have had many people since then ask the same question, ‘If God knows what He is going to do anyway, why pray?’ My answer is anchored in Scripture: Because faith moves the heart of God.
Neither Moses nor David got everything they wanted in prayer. Moses did God’s will for over 40 years and it cost him everything. But in the end, he did not get to go into the promised land. David wanted to build a temple for God but God said that David’s son would be the one. These men were just like us with emotions just like ours. They prayed prayers for forgiveness when they messed up. They prayed for prayers of healing when sickness came upon them or their loved ones. They prayed for prayers of wisdom when they didn’t know where to turn. Many of their prayers were powerfully answered [just as many of ours have been], and God used them in tremendous ways. But God didn’t give them everything their hearts desired, and neither will we be given a green card for every prayer. But they didn’t stop praying…stop believing…stop praising. They continued and so should we.
Prayer takes courage when our hearts have been broken. Prayer takes reverence when His Kingdom comes instead of ours. Prayer takes humility when His ways were not our ways. Prayer becomes easier when we truly understand and embrace that God sees our lives rolled out in one continuous picture. Our prayers become bolder when we trust God for His love and wisdom. We will be hard-pressed to find anyone on this earth or in the Bible would got everything for which they prayed, especially Christ. We only have to read with fresh eyes and hearts the gut-wrenching prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. God’s ‘no’ to Christ was our ‘yes' and when we really understand the purpose and power of God’s sovereignty we can thank Him for His ways and His decisions. Our unanswered prayers cannot drench water on the fire of our prayers. We must approach Him with boldness instead of timidity, and strength instead of weakness. “What if these men of God hadn’t asked anything because they couldn’t have everything?Believing God, p. 67. Quite a question to ponder…