Tuesday, July 13, 2010
When Everything Goes Wrong
by Pam Clark
Pam ClarkEver have those days? Those weeks? Those seasons? For all the "confessing" and "rote prayers" you might do, you will still encounter days and seasons and weeks where things just seem to go crazy. After the initial shock, you start asking questions, hopefully, instead of just reacting from "the flesh" or "the carnal nature" rather than your spirit-man.
It takes effort. Your carnal nature acts on impulses. It often reacts to things that confront it with a reaction of displeasure. You can be sure that if something is amiss to you, the devil wants to jump in and make it worse. He definitely wants you to bypass prayer and considering Scriptures to challenge your situation.
Many mistakenly believe that God should jump in and "fix it" for them, or they think it means that He doesn't love them. For sure, the devil wants you to believe that so that you will turn away from God. But, the sun will still come up tomorrow morning, even if the clouds are obscuring the view.
But even more sure than nature is the eternal words of God. We have to find them and hold on to them. It is so key to know the purposes of God and your place in that. You are doing real good if you believe that God is good and the devil is bad. Throw into that mix that you have the choice, will and volition to navigate and declare your "space" and an interesting dynamic is at work.
The right mind will know that God is real and almighty and omnipotent. The right sense of nature will tell you that God is good and He is life and He is not only creative, but He is the Creator. He is definitely bigger than we are and we know that just by looking at the sky and earth around us. But observing and knowing are two different things.
Why Were You Put on This Earth?
Well, you can certainly reason that it's because God wants you here. And He wants you here to make a difference. But how do you do that when things are overwhelmingly wrong? And when the stuff hits the fan, then what?
This is where it is important to realize what Jesus said, when He said, "In your patience you possess your souls." Let's look at the context of that a moment.
Luke 21:10-19 Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls."
Wow! There is a lot going on there! It sounds like He is saying that for a time like this, when a bunch of negative things are going on. Take your pick from the list or come up with some more from your own battles!
It's so important to realize that Jesus wants to get in the middle of the battle with you. The greatest thing that Jesus ever said or proved was "I Am the Resurrection and the Life." Without that hope, life is surely nothing more than a gamble that could have a really bad ending. Since we don't want to go that direction, let's look to the Creator and His purposes.
God created us for fellowship, not just with each other but with Him. Sometimes we can feel very far away from that, but if we point our hearts towards Him, you will find He is looking right back at you with a message. We just have to decide that we want to hear the message or go our own ways. We have been offered some leeway on some things but others things can be quite critical.
Some may have relatives or friends they can call on, but I'd rather be subject to my own prayers than someone else's most of the time. When God answers prayers, it is because He is believing the relationship stands a chance. He'd rather let you suffer a little pain and keep your understanding of Him than just let you go your own way never to return.
God is Sacred.
He does have holy places and holy ways. And He is bigger than what a lot of even church folk would sometimes like to have you to believe. God is always there with you in "the now". People are going to act crazy, circumstances are going to go crazy sometimes, but our best angle is in knowing God's will - which is good - and how to pray.
We don't define good to God; He defines good to us. His good is better than our good! It is so important for us to realize that. There are a lot of people who know how to share about their fancy steps towards God and He may very well be in some of that. Some really have a song and a dance and a testimony. But some places in life are just seemingly dull and weak and even unpleasant.
When crazy things happen, He may be very much in the midst of that for your good! Give it a chance in your own soul for it to happen. Don't defeat your cause by trying to defeat others who should believe. It may not be what you thought, but it may be pointing you into a direction that is better than you thought. And if you really believe, you will start to not just wonder, but gain confidence in knowing it from experience.
God loves the element of surprise but He also offers the stability of His Word through the Scriptures. It pays to know His Word to learn His ways. And there are other people who can open things up to you in even more ways than what you just figured out. In making God-connection friends, you will have people you can call on when you go through your tribulations. They can help encourage you, pray for you and sometimes even act on your behalf.
But when it seems that you are all on your own and in need, work to hear His Voice because He does say He will be there with you in time of need. You may have to coast and trust in that faith "knowing" and find it's really all okay, or you may find a new dimension in your life.
Just work to have that patience that will not sell its birthright like Esau did (see Genesis 25) and sabotoge your blessings. And realize that if you do fail, God IS ready to help pick you up again. It's those who turn away that He cannot help. I wish you His Best.
Monday, July 5, 2010
God's Delays Are Not Denials by Lee Grady
Do you trust God's timing? The path to spiritual maturity requires us to surrender our selfish deadlines.
When Mary and Martha sent news to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus, was about to die, Jesus didn't respond the way his friends expected. He actually snubbed their request. The Bible says when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, "He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was" (John 11:6, NASB).
For Mary and Martha, those were two very long days.
Doubts tormented them. What kind of friend was Jesus, anyway? Why did He ignore their urgent plea? Why didn't He drop everything and rush to their aid? Mary was especially frustrated and distraught about Jesus' seemingly insensitive delay.
When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany—four days after Lazarus died—a shroud of gloom covered the village. Everybody was in mourning. Mary was overwhelmed by grief and disappointment. Her faith was as cold as Lazarus' corpse.
Mary didn't even want to talk to Jesus. This woman who was known as a passionate disciple of the Lord stayed in the house when her sister went outside to ask Jesus why He took so long (see v. 20). We don't know exactly what Mary was doing in the house. Most likely she was sulking, maybe even struggling with feelings of anger toward Jesus because He didn't come when she called.
You may relate to Mary. Many of us get stuck in this same place of disillusionment. We get upset and confused when God doesn't work according to our timetable.
Perhaps you have been asking Jesus to intervene in your crisis. You may need Him to rescue a wayward child, heal your body, provide for a financial need, restore a broken relationship or salvage a dream that is on its deathbed. It may seem that Jesus missed His golden opportunity—or that He was so busy meeting the needs of others that He just dropped you from His priority list.
Like Mary of Bethany, you may feel that Jesus waited too long. It's over. Your problem is now so serious, and your dream so lifeless, that Jesus cannot help you.
When we face these frustrating delays, we automatically assume that He is denying us, neglecting us or rejecting us. So we throw a childish pity party. We go in our rooms, close our doors, shut out the pain and stay as far away from Jesus as possible.
We find it too difficult to pray when we are in a faith crisis. The enemy of our souls tells us that Jesus doesn't care, that our prayers are meaningless and that there is no reward for believing in Him. Some of us, if we have melancholy tendencies, also beat ourselves up with the familiar "I guess I just don't have enough faith" line.
Thankfully Mary did not stay in her self-made prison of depression. The Bible says that when Jesus came to her house and got close enough to Lazarus' tomb to smell the stench, Mary ran to him and knelt at His feet—the place where she began her journey of discipleship (see Luke 10:39). After all the moping, she set aside the blame games and returned to the only place where life's struggles make sense.
She knelt in His presence, not to ask Him why He let Lazarus die but simply to gain strength from being with Him.
She decided to grow up. She left behind the whining immaturity that demands Jesus must act a certain way. She put her trust in Him afresh, letting go of selfish expectations. When she surrendered her life to Him that day, she was saying that she would follow Him not only in the good times but also on the darkest days when she couldn't see His love through the clouds of death, suffering and pain.
There, at Jesus' feet, Mary caught a glimpse of Jesus like she'd never seen Him before. He wept for His friend Lazarus, and then He commanded his lifeless body to come out of the tomb. Mary would have missed the miracle if she had stayed in seclusion. She needed to see with her own eyes that God's delays are not denials—and that Jesus' timing is perfect even when it seems He has forgotten us.
Do you feel as if Jesus has ignored your request? Does it seem as if your message to Him was intercepted? Have you been sinking into discouragement because your dream has died—and Jesus doesn't care?
Run back to Him and take your place at His feet. True disciples know that life operates on God's schedule, not ours. Press through your doubts, surrender your deadlines, renounce your impatience and renew your trust in the Lord, who is the sovereign Lord over your circumstances.