Trust

“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

God’s will is a mysterious thing.  Although He has revealed His will for every believer’s life in His Word and through His Spirit, there are many details that are left unknown.  God does not give us the answers to all of our questions.  This can be frustrating because it requires more faith than we can muster on our own.

It would be easier to trust God and His plan if He laid out each and every step for us…or would it?  We tend to think it would.  But maybe this is not the case.  Perhaps if God showed us everything, it would be too much for us and we would turn back.

In order for God to glorify Himself through our lives, He must push us out of our comfort zones.  He leads us to mountaintops; but He also leads us through dark valleys of despair.  His will does not always make sense to our temporal mindset.  But we must remember that God sees the end from the beginning; and anything He allows into our lives is for our good and His glory.

So, what do we do when we don’t have the answers that we think we need?  We can cling to this promise in Jeremiah 29:11.  This verse is often misused and misunderstood to mean that God’s plans are never hard or sad or uncomfortable.  That is not what this verse promises.  God has plans to prosper His children and not harm us, yes.  He has plans to give us a hope and a future, yes.  But this is according to His standards, not by ours, and not by this world’s.

Our God is so mighty and majestic that He can glorify Himself through tragedy, hardship and suffering.  The most gracious thing that God can give us is Himself…and it is in the valleys of life that we are drawn most near to His heart.  We cannot understand it or explain it…it is just part of the beautiful mystery of living life with God.

So, the next time you have more questions than answers.  The next time you are struggling and desperately need to hear from God.  Remember that what you need isn’t something from God…you need God.  His plans are always good, because God is always good.

Father, Thank you for this promise from Your Word.  Help me to remember that Your plans are always for my good, even when I may not understand how You are working.  Increase my faith in You, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Our God Saves

“Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.”  Psalm 68:20

There is one truth about our God that as believers we must always remember.  It is a truth that gives hope in times of despair; joy in times of suffering, patience in times of waiting, and peace in times of difficulty.  We must never forget that our God saves.  Jehovah, the Great I Am, is the only God who saves.

There are many different gods worshiped amongst the world’s religions; yet none of these gods even claim to save sinners.  These supposed gods claim to rule, to watch, to be angered, but not to save.  Other gods demand works in order to be saved; but the One and Only Living God sent His Son to do the work for those who could never save themselves.  After all, who could ever be good enough for the true God except for God Himself?

Yes, our God gloriously and graciously saves!  Let’s count the ways.  He saves us from our sins and from His wrath against our sins by the blood of His Son.  He saves us from our enemies, the worst being the father of lies, Satan.  He saves us from death, the punishment for sin.  He saves us from the flesh; giving us the Holy Spirit now to sanctify and promising to one day deliver us from this body of death.  He saves us from futile living by giving us a purpose laid out in His Word.  He saves us from fear by giving His perfect love, which casts out all fear.  He saves us from worry and anxiety by giving us His peace.  He saves us from our own mistakes by freely giving wisdom when we ask.  He saves us from loneliness by giving us His Body, the Church.

We could go on and on about the salvation of the LORD.  It is full and final.  It is finished and irrevocable.  It is given generously and freely to all who will believe.  Are you living in the salvation of the Jehovah Rapha – the God who Heals?  His salvation is not a one-time happening…it is ongoing as He hides His children beneath the shadow of His wings.  Have you trusted Him as Savior by surrendering to Him as Lord?  If not, do it now!  He is good and deserving of your life’s worship.

If you have trusted Him for salvation, are you living daily in His finished work by allowing Him to be your everything?  If not, repent!  He is sufficient and is the only One who satisfies.

Father, Please forgive me for the times I fail to trust You.  You have never let me down or failed to do what You’ve promised.  Thank You for Your salvation.  Help me to show others Your power to truly save.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Don’t Compare

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18

Comparing is something that we do every day.  We compare ourselves to others.  We compare prices when we shop.  We compare our kids to other kids, our house to other houses, where we live to where others live, etc., etc.  Not all comparing is bad, but it can be dangerous.  Comparisons can be an opportunity for Satan to rob us of the joy, satisfaction, and contentment that we have in Christ.

Perhaps one of the most opportune times to become discontent is when we are suffering.  It is hard not to make comparisons when circumstances seem unbearable.  And yet, Paul wrote that, “Present sufferings are not worth comparing” with what is our inheritance in Christ.  The phrase, “not worth” means: Have like value; corresponding.  In other words, Paul reminds us that our present sufferings and the glory that is ahead for a Christian are incomparable…they are not of like value.

How often do we still try to compare the two, though?  We are willing to trade eternal glories for temporary comforts.  This spiritual shortsightedness not only costs us, but also those around us who need to see the display of God’s glory in our lives.  When we react to suffering like those with no hope, what do we say about our God?

I am not suggesting that it is easy.  As you read this you may be without a job, in the midst of a disease or other sickness, or recently divorced or widowed.  Your child might be in rebellion, or you may have suffered the extreme grief of losing a child too soon.  Maybe it’s addiction, betrayal, or fear that you find yourself fighting against.  Whatever the suffering, God is here.  Right now and always, He is for you.  He goes before, follows behind, and walks beside.  You are never alone if you choose to trust Christ with your life.

So, the next time you are tempted to make comparisons, remember that there is nothing in this world worthy of the next.  Our future is secure in Jesus Christ.  So whatever we suffer now – if we suffer well – will reap a harvest when we reign with Christ forever.

Father, Help me to remember when my life is hard that You are all I need.  May my life display Your sufficiency, goodness, and glory to everyone who watches the way I respond when suffering.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Broken Hearts

“Because of His great love, we are not consumed.  For His compassions never fail.  His mercies are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23 

Why?  Why, God?  How could You let this happen?  The horrific events that unfolded four years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left us all reeling, questioning, and grieving.  Where do we go with questions that have no answers?  Who do we blame when the perpetrator is dead?  How do we reconcile the sovereignty of God with twenty-seven fatalities, most of which were first grade children?

The enemy will use this event as evidence that God is not good…that He cannot be trusted with that which is most precious in our lives.  The Church must stand up and proclaim the truth – God is good all the time.  It is a lack of trust in God that led to that fateful day.  It is not God that has changed…it is man.

It is time for the Church in the United States to wake up, dress Herself in God’s full armor, and fight like soldiers.  Look around…we are at war.  An unseen battle is raging for the hearts and souls of our children.  The attacks are everywhere…media, education, literature, and even toys and video games.  Our only defense is the truth of God’s Word and the presence of His Spirit living in us.

So, as we mourn and grieve with those who suffered unimaginable loss, let us not forget to lift them up to the only One who fully understands such suffering.  He has suffered at the hands of evil, innocently tasting death in a gruesome murder at Calvary.  He is our suffering Savior; and only He can provide the comfort that is needed.

And as we continue with the celebrations of Christ’s birth, let us glorify Him in our response to this tragedy.  Instead of questioning Him, let us honor Him by sharing the truth of His Word.

Father, I am thankful that when there are no words, no answers, no explanations, You are there.  You have the words we do not.  You have the grace we need and the comfort we crave.  I lift all of those up affected by the recent shootings in our country.  Father, bind up their broken hearts and draw them to You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Gifts

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matthew 6:26

It is impossible to understand the greatness of God’s love.  That the Creator of the universe cares about the twists and turns of our lives is unimaginable.  He knows the stars by name.  He knows the number of grains of sand on the ocean floor.  He knows the number of hairs on each head of every person alive on this planet.  And yet, we struggle to trust Him with the details of our lives.  If He is mighty enough to speak all things into being, isn’t He worthy of our full confidence and surrender?

Have you ever wondered why God chose to give such wonderful gifts?  He didn’t have to give the zebra strips or paint such magnificent sunsets.  It wasn’t necessary to have so many different kinds of flowers, birds, and butterflies.  Who said that sea turtles had to be created with the innate ability to return thousands of miles to the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs?  Why such a splendid creation?

Everything in creation shouts that God can be trusted.  God left no stone unturned.  He created a world that is self-sustaining.  Birds migrate, bears hibernate, trees shed their leaves, and plants make food and provide oxygen for us to breathe.  The moon, tides, seasons, and sun work together in inexplicable ways.  Right now we are living on a giant magnetic fireball flying through space, rotating and turning and spinning at just the right degree and speed to sustain life.  Who did all of this?  Who gave such gifts?

If you are like me, there is always great anticipation for Christmas morning.  When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to see what gifts I received; but now, I can’t wait to see others’ reactions to the gifts I give.  There is no greater joy than seeing a gift that I thoughtfully selected and sacrificed to purchase be received with delight, joy and gratitude.

The same is true of God, and even more so.  He is the perfect gift-giver.  His gifts meet our needs and satisfy our desires.  He knows what we need before we even have to ask.  There is no naughty-or-nice list…His gifts are given in grace, not based on behavior.

Look around and choose to see His gifts.  Let them drive you to trust Him more.

Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for Your good gifts.  Evidence of Your trustworthiness is everywhere I choose to look for it.  Please help me to remember to give these gifts away to those who so desperately need Your love.  In Christ’s Name, Amen.