God’s Plan

...now browsing by tag

 
 

January 15

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Have you ever been disappointed with God? I suspect all of us would speak to the affirmative of that statement. I must confess there have been times I have been. One of those times is now. After 10 months or pursuing me, Covid finally caught up with me. In spite of the mask, the hand sanitizing, the extra vitamins designed to ward off a virus or infection, I got it. A body that once weighed 223 and was pretty solid is now 30 pounds less in 3 weeks, lost a lot of muscle and is weak. (I hope this is not TMI): I have trouble keeping things down (or at least not feeling nauseated) and keeping things in. I’ve tried the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce, and Toast) but that hasn’t worked. And besides, it is boring and sort of disgusting.  I’m not fond of bananas, white rice or white toast.  I’ve had people praying for me. I have prayed fervently for healing. All the tests so far have come back negative, or on the good side. After a night of solid sleep where the alarm woke me, I slept fitfully last night. This is not meant to be a “woe is me” devotion though. It is designed to ask a question:

Why am I disappointed with God?

I already know the answer: because He hasn’t answered my (and others) prayers for healing. My desire is to be completely healed from this mess. But then I think, “Who am I to expect that? Maybe God has a bigger plan in His big picture?”

One thing I do know is that I need to delight in God and then He will fulfill the desires of my heart, not the other way around, i.e. God will fulfill my dreams then I will delight in Him.  So I must keep in mind that disappointment is not unusual or even unexpected, but I must delight in Him no matter what. If He chooses to heal me, I will praise Him. If He has another plan, I will praise Him.

“So Father,  I will praise You even through my disappointment.”

January 14

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

One of the tragedies that many Christ-followers fall into is failing to see people, events, or circumstances through the eyes of Jesus. I can’t “swear” by this but I think that may be at the root of a lot of peoples’ anger at God. Instead of seeing whatever it is through His eyes, we see it through our lens. I know I have done that. Sometimes I have railed at God-anger spilling out of my lips; my body tense for battle; my fists clenched…before I ever know His motives or desire for me.

So, what to do? I read a great picture of that. Imagine standing face-to-face with Jesus, enjoying a conversation about life and all its challenges. He looks into your eyes, and you sense His perfect knowledge of your innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires. You look into His eyes and see His deep love and acceptance of You. Then, in this moment of intimacy, you see Him step closer toward you, so close it looks like He’s going to knock you down. But instead of a collision, He steps right into you. He turns around so He’s looking out of your eyes, He stretches His hands down into your hands, and you begin to feel His heartbeat…He has clothed Himself with you. (taken from Experiencing God’s Presence-Jan 13)

As I read that my mind went to several Scriptures. “If a man is in Christ, He is a new creation.” (2 Cor.5:17). “I have been crucified with Christ…nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me.” (Gal.2:20) “And all who have been united with Christ…like putting on new clothes.”  Some translations say, “put on Christ.” (Gal.3:27)

“Father, may I live my life as seen through Your eyes. Please give me ‘Spirit eyes’ to see as You do.”

January 8

Friday, January 8th, 2021

It is my humble opinion that one of the hardest things to do is to accept blame-responsibility for something. As a younger pastor I can recall a number of times saying, “If this hadn’t happened” or “If this hadn’t been done” then none of what took place would have. I’m not as bad as I used to be, perhaps maturity has entered the picture (I hope) OR understanding God’s love and grace and plan more has made a change in me (my greater hope).

There is an old saying: “Remember, whenever you point a finger at someone there’s always 3 pointing back at you.” (I guess the thumb is a non-entity, an extra, but don’t cut it off!) Finger-pointing is nothing new. Do you remember the Garden story when God confronted Adam and Eve? What did they do? One thing they didn’t do was accept the blame. Nope, not them.

  • A: “The woman. It was her fault.”
  • E: “The serpent. It was his fault.”

That’s taking one for the team, isn’t it? Nope. And as you well know, nothing has changed. Like my feeble attempt to explain away, i.e refuse to accept responsibility for a failure or wrong action, we still do that. I suspect on a daily basis. Oh sure, we mature so we (hopefully) accept responsibility a little more readily, but I know within me there is still this little man pointing his finger at someone else. I wonder when that happens if that is a little bit of what Jesus was referring to in Mt.13:14-15. I realize that passage deals more with hearing the message but the same closed heart for the “seed” can be the same closed heart for hearing and accepting the truth. And responsibility.

Here’s a thought: For every time we accept responsibility and stop trying to pass the blame, perhaps grace has become more real to us. Grace helps us see ourselves as we truly are-definitely not as good as we think we are-but willing to accept responsibility for the mess.

“Father, help me to stop pointing fingers at someone or some thing and to start seeing ‘me’ as the culprit. Then help me to allow Your transforming grace to do its work.”

January 7

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Who am I meant to be? A slight variation of that is the question asked by millions of people since the beginning of time: who am I? I think every teenager asks that question. In all honesty, it isn’t a question just for teens. I know adults-in their 20s, 30s, 40s- who still wonder what they are here for. I’m one of them.  I should say I used to be.

My mother once told for as long as she can remember I talked about being a pastor. Other than the unrealistic dream of being a professional baseball or basketball player, I never dreamed of being a fireman or policeman or any of the other “hero” vocations. Except for a 2-year period (6th-7th grade) where I spread my wings verbally (you can draw your own conclusions), I always had a heart for God. I stood out like a sore thumb in high school when I wouldn’t fight, riot or even go out Friday night to get drunk so I could throw up and drink some more. How stupid is that? But even though my heart leaned toward, and even though I did become a pastor, there have been times I’ve questioned that. When I got fired or dismissed. When the church failed to grow. When my own heart grew cold and sometimes bitter. When I stood and compared myself to others. It was tough but what brought me back was knowing what I was created for. Two things: 1) I was made by God to have a fully restored relationship with Him; and 2) I was made to be transformed by Him.  It’s the icing on the cake.  It’s the cherry on top of the ice cream.  Everything else is, well, superfluous.

“Father, I was created by You to be Yours and to be transformed by You. Please do Your work in me so I will know my purpose.”

December 8

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

I had a tradition I observed for years but broke two years ago. Every Thanksgiving Day I watched It’s a Wonderful Life (IWL) and followed it with The Santa Clause (TSC) featuring Tim Allen. I broke it because our local theater showed IWL on the big screen. I would watch TSC but this year with no TV or DVD player I watched neither.

IWL is probably my favorite Christmas movie, although it really isn’t one. Not like TSC or White Christmas. But the setting is Christmas Eve so IWL falls into that category. George Bailey is a local yokel who had dreams of travel but his plans were always thwarted. One desperate night he had come to the end of his rope and he prays, “Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there, and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope.”  The situation which made him this lost and desperate was not his fault but he took it on as though it was. The story is told that Jimmy Stewart had real tears in his eyes because he felt the loneliness and the brokenness of people.

We live in a broken world.  We could say “sinful” instead of broken and that would be true. But broken adequately describes our world. Things are broken. Yes, they are sinful, but broken just pictures someone at their wit’s end. Broken and cracked but unable to be fixed (or so they think). Not by any man made means for sure. Not by self. Not by a self-help guru.  Our brokenness, our “cracked-ness,” can only be fixed by Jesus. What better time of the year than now to bring hope and life and love to a world looking for it (even though they may not know).

“Father, I’m asking you to mend me and then help me tell others that you are the mender of lives and souls.”

November 16

Monday, November 16th, 2020

I am a terrible waiter.  No, I didn’t work at a restaurant and drop food or drink in a person’s lap. I could jokingly say, “When God was handing out qualities and said, ‘Patience?’ I thought I was going to be a doctor so I said I’ll take plenty.”  But I’m not a doctor and it’s not the same word. (I know. That’s bad).

I repeat: I am a terrible waiter. I’m not as bad I used to be, so I guess I can chalk it up to maturity. I remember one incident when I was at the first church I served. I commented about this new Bible I had seen at the bookstore. I went ahead a few days later and bought it. One day later, a man came to me with that same Bible as a gift. I missed out on being blessed and him having the joy of blessing me. That has happened so many times I can’t count. But I missed because I was spontaneous. I’ve run ahead of God way too many times.

I find myself waiting again. Last Thursday, the 5th, I was outside sitting across a picnic table talking to someone, for close to 1-2 hours.  The next day she lost her sense of smell and tested positive for ‘rona. I found out Monday afternoon. So, now I am quarantined until sometime this coming week (probably Thursday to be safe). I wait. Have I said I’m a terrible waiter?

When I don’t presume upon God and run ahead, He has often taken me on a slow path. However, while people will say, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” I’m not convinced that is always best. Some of my best time with God has been the slow churn. Or as I am fond of saying, “He took me ’round Robin Hood’s barn.” In other words, He took me the long way.

I’m learning to wait. I suspect I will also continue to learn. “And that is my prayer, Father. I need to learn to wait.”

November 11

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

“The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.”

I wish that was original with me but I’m sure it’s not. I just cannot tell you where I read it or heard it. But here is what is running through my head this morning:

Today’s world is a mess. It’s like an old DeGarmo and Key song playing through my head right now: “Judgment Day.” (I know it is not possibly your style of music but the message is pointed. I’m sorry I couldn’t find one with lyrics but Dana’s voice is clear enough to understand the words). Guns blazing. Riots on the streets. Vitriolic speech. Accusations galore. And the lists go on. Why? Because that is who we are. We would like to say it is not me…but it is. I go back to my original statement: The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. The Bible is clear on this fact -> it all comes from within.

Paul David Tripp wrote:

“If your heart isn’t ruled by God’s honor and your life by God’s plan, you may seem religious, but what you’re living isn’t biblical faith.” (40 Days of Faith-p.22)

Isn’t this exactly what Jesus got so upset with the Pharisees over? Here, listen to Isaiah 29:13- “And the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me…’ “ Sound familiar? It should. Jesus used those same words in Mt. 15:8-9. 700 years before Isaiah was describing the heart of man-then, and in 700 years- and yes, even in 2020.

James is right, you know? We fight and quarrel because our passions are at war within us (James 2:1) Read again my opening statement. Can you disagree? Not according to Isaiah, Jesus and James.  That statement is surely not original with me, but it still holds true.

“Father, help me to get my heart aligned with Yours. May my life and heart be consistent with Your Word.”

November 5

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

As I write this it is the morning after the election. I went to bed earlier than I have lately because I was tired and because I did not want to watch prognostications of early returns. I am here this morning having woke up my normal time and having purposely not looked at election results on my phone.  It is interesting then that I would read the following words in Romans 12: 33-36:

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To him be glory forever. Amen.”

I learned a long time, and then read it again recently, that we are all control freaks to some extent. Some more than others, but we all want some control. That goes for all areas of our lives. And yes, our country and its politics.

Power is an ugly thing. The more power we have, the more we want. It is control. I did not watch or get on my phone this morning for a reason: I wanted to keep in mind that God is in control and I do not understand His ways. I do not know the future. What I must do is trust. Trust His plan. Trust His sovereignty. Trust His ways. Trust His purpose. I am not in control; He is. Amen.

October 26

Monday, October 26th, 2020

When you think about prayer, there are a lot of crazy ideas going around.  ‘Course there are the lies and false ones (bordering on heresy) that you can tell God what you want and He will do it, especially if you name it and claim it in the name of Jesus.  There are those who say, “Why should I pray when God already knows?” That is a somewhat fair question. There is also one that I don’t hear much of in my circle but I know it is out there. Here is an example:

Praying to God and asking for a job or for Him to move in your life and provide some money (for example), but then just sitting in your chair-expecting the job or the money to fall into your lap. You and I might think that is absurd but then again you may not. It might be seen in another way. Say perhaps you ask God to provide for someone and you have the ability to do so but fail to help. That would be an example of James 2, of faith without works.

When we pray for something we should either be willing to get busy if its for ourselves or if we prayed on behalf of someone else. That’s like the two boys who were late for school. One said, “Let’s go!” The other said, “Let’s stop and pray we won’t be late.” The other said, “You can stop and pray but I prefer to pray while I run.” I think he got it right. 🙂

Run. Pray. Then keep running as if your life depended on it. Pray. Trust. Then do all you can in looking or searching.

“Father, I can pray in Your will and know you will answer. But sitting around and doing nothing is not what I believe you want. Trust and obey.”

October 22

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

There is no question our world is unsettled right now. As I write this in 2020, we have experienced a pandemic the likes of which my generation or after has never experienced before. We have watched cities be held hostage; cities burn and in some cases are still burning; corrupt politicians grease their own palms and flaunt their sinful agenda, thumb their nose at people all while doing their own things to further their agenda. We have seen lies and cover ups, the likes of which we have never seen before. We have seen sin flaunted in the open, almost daring us to say anything derogatory toward that sin. And we simply cannot forget the hatred and vitriol we have seen from and on social media.

Something is wrong. True. But we are also seeing a fulfillment of Romans 1: 18-32.  Put aside for a moment the obvious reference in that passage to homosexuality. See the blatant reference to mass chaos in our lives. How can we read this passage without seeing the result of disobedience to God’s law?

There is a story told -true or not is up for grabs-that a UK newspaper once asked its readers “what is wrong with the world?” It is told that G.K.Chesterton, a Catholic writer, poet and philosopher answered that question with a 4-word answer: “Dear Sirs. I am.” How’s that for brevity and truth? I am what wrong with the world. It’s called sin and I have the disease. We all do.

“Father, the only solution to the sin problem is You. Jesus died for my sin so I can know victory over death, hell and the grave. I don’t have to be intimidated by sin any more. Give me the strength to surrender my will to You. The reason: me; the solution: You.”