God’s Plan

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January 22

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

My thoughts are focused this morning (I wrote this at 4:15) on Alexander, and by proxy, Jimmy, Christine, Eliza and Isabella. (Ryan and I went at 5:15 but had to leave at 8:30 because of a previous commitment Ryan had. I am typing this at 11:16 and they took Alexander at 10:40 and expect it to last 3-4 hours. I will let you know when I know something. Thanks so much for praying for him).  “Oh Father, I pray for Alexander during  this exploratory and possibly life-changing surgery. Be with the eyes and hands and minds of the doctors and nurses as they work. I pray for an alternative for his heart, but if it is not to be, I pray for grace for Jimmy and Christine. Either way I pray You will be glorified, that You will be given honor and this will be a testimony to you. And I pray for Alexander-that no matter the outcome You will use him for Your glory. Now and in the future.”

Tonight we meet with a young lady named Katherine and her family to pray over her and anoint her with oil. She is 13 and has had Lyme disease since she was 3. (She went 2 years with it misdiagnosed). She is out of remission right now and it is raining havoc in her teenage body. We meet tonight in accordance with James 5:14-15. It started with me visiting them; then I wanted to include Ryan (since she is part of the youth group); then I wanted to include the elders/leaders. I’m praying for healing. Medicine and the medical community says there is no cure for this. Maybe so. But I serve a God who is bigger than that, One who can do more than I or anyone can imagine. It may not be His will to completely heal her. But I don’t know that. I’m called on to pray in faith believing He will heal her.  I refuse to doubt God’s power and sovereignty. I do know Katherine, her mom and dad (Becca and Rob); her grandma (Joyce) all belong to God. She has a sister, Ally, who loves Jesus. She also has two young brothers, James and Robbie, who love Jesus as they know Him. We will pray tonight believing in God’s healing power.

One last thought:Pr.22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” May my life be an expression of God working in and through me with more concern for Whom I represent than what I can get out of it. May I labor for Him and not for wealth or earthly gain and appeal.

January 21 Interruption

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

I’m going to set aside my regularly scheduled devotion for one of much greater importance. I’m going to ask you to read this all the way through…please.  And please know I received permission from Christine to write this and to post the pictures.

This is Alexander Chambers:

How can you not fall in love with this little guy?  Alexander is 20 months old. Let me tell you his story. His mom & dad, Jimmy and Christine (see family portrait at the end of this post), were told during her pregnancy that Alexander would be born with a birth defect (sorry don’t know the medical name) which would affect his heart. They are heroes to me. The thought of abortion NEVER crossed their mind. He wasn’t very old when he had his first heart surgery. After his birth he spent quite a bit of time in Riley Hospital in Indianapolis.  He finally got to come home to his two sisters but the past year and a half has been an adventure. Like all kids he has had his share of colds, sniffles, etc but they seem to be more frequent…and last longer. But that has not stopped him! He is as rambunctious as any 20 month old little boy.

Alexander’s heart is not a normal heart. His left artery that feeds the heart is totally closed. That means he is not getting any oxygen to his heart from his left side. If that cannot be corrected he will always have restrictions on what he can do physically. No sports. No normal activities which require physical exertion. He understands now that when he tires he must stop and rest. An exploratory procedure several months ago showed that. Since then he has undergone a heart scan for the doctors to see if they can and should consider doing something. They had told Jimmy and Christine that they could do nothing but then said, “No. Let’s do this scan to make sure.”  The scan showed for certain the state of his left artery.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) Alexander goes into surgery to see if something can be done. 

I’m asking for prayer for Alexander. Please pray for his care during surgery. Please pray for the doctors and nurses as they work. Please pray for his mom and dad and two sisters. Please pray for God to intervene and make a way for surgery if that is His will. And pray for healing. The downside: if he does have surgery it may require up to a month or more of hospitalization which will take Christine away from her family. We prayed Sunday morning for him/for them. I asked the leaders to come up front to gather around and to pray for the family. While Christine told the folks what all was happening, Alexander came over to me and wrapped his arms around my legs and then let me hold him while I prayed (he eventually went to his mom). Little people are special to me. This guy is extra special.  I’ll keep you posted as to the result.

I, of course, do not know how tomorrow will turn out. But I truly believe (and have told Christine this) that God has a special plan for Alexander. I believe God is going to use Him and this situation to be glorified. I hope I’m around to see what He does.

Here is a picture of the whole family:

Jimmy, Christine, Alexander, Eliza, and Isabella. What a lovely family.

I may not post here tomorrow. His surgery has been scheduled several days and times and has been changed that many times. As of right now, it is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:00. He will be taken for prep at 7:30. Ryan (our youth pastor) and I will be leaving Spencer at 5:15 to be with them and pray beforehand. You can pray for safe travels for us as well. And thanks from Jimmy, Christine, Eliza, Isabella, Alexander and from me.

This has also been posted on my “Cycleguy’s Spin” blog.

 

January 17/Weekend

Friday, January 17th, 2020

My title for this devotion is Storm vs Calm.

In September of this past year (2019) Jo and I were blessed with the trip/dream of a lifetime-a trip to Alaska. After having made the decision in early ’19 to look into a trip and then deciding to save one more year, some folks in the church I pastor took the initiative to contact others to “bless us.” In late March/early April they surprised us with the all-expense paid trip. We were blown away to say the least.

We have lots of memories of that trip-tangible ones like pictures and t-shirts. But one that hit me today was that we did not encounter any rough weather on or off land. It was absolutely gorgeous! Even the one day we were cruising Tracy Arm Fjord where it rains 100″/year, it was sunny and bright and calm. I’m glad. All my life I’ve had trouble with going in circles and riding rough, windy roads. I had not been able to ride and read in a vehicle EVER (hence my tough time studying on the bus during basketball trips in college). I finally learned a trick to be able to read on the interstate (while someone else is driving of course! 🙂 ), but rough sea weather? That could have spelled disaster on the trip.  Frankly, I did not want to find out if I had sea legs or not.

In real time, storms are a part of life. I get fried whenever I think of the smiling speaker who says I am to have my best life now. Heaven becomes a downgrade when you think about it. No thank you. Storms are a part of life. The way I see it I have either been through a storm and may be enjoying a reprieve; going through a storm right now; or will be going through one soon enough. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests the hearts.” In I Peter 1:6-7 Peter talks about our faith being tested to show the genuineness of it-more precious than gold. Storms are a part of life; a part of growth; a part of the life of the Christ-follower. Storms are never comfortable, but in God’s plan are always essential. A storm on a boat is dubious for me. A storm in life is expected and ALWAYS has a purpose. Among many, one huge purpose is God keeps His promise of being there. A.L.W.A.Y.S.

“Father, storms serve so much more of a purpose than calm. Although calm is nice, storms have a purpose and will benefit my growth. Help me to trust You that storm comes.”

January 15

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

My title is Me, Myself and I vs. Us.

Years ago I read something that came back to me twice recently. Once as early as this morning:

  • Education says, “Be resourceful; expand yourself!”
  • Psychology says, “Be confident; assert yourself!”
  • Religion says, “Be good; conform yourself!”
  • Epicureanism says, “Be sensuous; enjoy yourself!”
  • Materialism says, “Be satisfied; please yourself!”
  • Pride says, “Be superior; promote yourself!”
  • Humanism says, “Be capable; believe in yourself!”
  • Philanthropy says, “Be generous; release yourself!”

Do you notice the common denominator in all of those? “Yourself.”  As we would say, “It’s all about me.” I’ll call it the Me, Myself and I syndrome. There is in all of us-ALL of us-a desire for more. After all, I have three people to feed- Me, myself and I.

Consider then the impact of these two verses I read this morning:

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” Pr.15:16-17

Those verses tell me 2 things-well, more but two stand out: 1) Be content. Stop always reaching and wanting more. 2) Life is better than we sometimes think it is. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

Recently I have said to people, “You know it is nice to have money to live comfortably, even better than comfortably. But it is much better to have peace of mind, health, a love for a job, and less stress than all the money in the world. You can’t buy those things.”

I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination. Never have been. Probably never will be.  But I do have all I need. I have the love of my wife and family. I have peace of mind, health, and I absolutely love my job and the people I get to shepherd. There is no price for that. It is not me, myself and I; it is “us.”

“Father, thank you for keeping Your promise and promises. Thank you for meeting my needs. Thank you for peace of mind and health and all that comes with that, knowing it’s not all about me and my wants/desires. Let my life be about You and the people I love and serve.”

January 9

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

My title for this devotion is Believing vs BELIEVING.

I am a conundrum. I am a puzzle. I am an enigma. I am a mystery.  I am a mixed bag. Maybe an example would help.

Peter. Not Peter Rabbit. Not Peter Pan. No. Peter the guy in the Bible who became the spokesman for the rest. There was a guy who was a conundrum!

  • Question: “Who do people say I am?” “Who do you say I am?”
  • Answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
  • Statement: “Blessed are you Simon…”
  • Jesus’ statement: “The Son of Man will be delivered to be crucified and raised on the third day.”
  • Peter’s response: “Not so.”  Actually, it says, “No. Lord!” (Can those two words actually go together?)
  • Jesus’ statement: “Get behind me, Satan.”

To go from “Blessed” to being called “Satan.” Ouch!  But that is not the only place. Jesus makes a statement later about Peter being sifted like wheat. Peter says, “I will follow you anywhere. I would die for you.” Not much later he is denying that he is a disciple of Jesus. To a servant girl. To one who recognizes his Galilean accent. Not very threatening people when you think about it. Not soldiers. Not a religious leader with power. Just common folk.

That’s me. I say, “God is in control and has a plan.” I tell people that! I did just yesterday. Then I turn right around and do my own thing, go my own way. Or worse: I question His plan. I say I believe, but do I really BELIEVE? That’s why I’m a conundrum. Saying one thing; saying and BELIEVING is another.

How about you? Are you a conundrum?

“Father, only you can solve this puzzle called “me.” Only You understand me.  Help me to do more than just say. Help me to truly BELIEVE.”

 

December 30-31

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

I wrote this the morning of Monday, the 30th, but just now was able to get to a computer to post it.  It’s not all I want to say but I found my time to write rather short. Hope it makes you think some of your own response.

My title for this devotion is Shortage: Good vs Bad.

I find myself contemplating 2019 and wondering about 2020. Not unusual I’m sure. Also, my contemplation is not in a bad way either.  I know I can’t change what has happened. And I know I can’t even begin to guess what will be, so there is no need to concern myself. I’m thinking instead about lack, about shortages.

By that I am not in any way referring to money. I’m referring to those things that are missing or lacking my life. And to take it one step further: what am I going to do?

My thoughts along this line were piqued by a reference to the water of Jerusalem. There was only one source and it was outside the city walls. The way to defeat Jerusalem was to either divert it or dam it. In 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles we have the story of King Hezekiah building a tunnel through 1750 feet of solid rock to divert the water to a cistern. (As an aside: can you imagine the feat they accomplished without modern earth-moving machinery?). Anyway, Isaiah 22 says he did it without regard “for the one who made it.” (translated: G0d).

That got me thinking. How often do I act without regard to God? How often do I just “do” without seeking God’s input, His guidance? Admittedly, too often. I move; I act; I disrupt; without ever seeking God’s thoughts. Instead of seeing something as a handicap, perhaps it is time to embrace my limitations and allow God to use them for His glory.

“Father, any shortage I have is a tool for you to use. Please help me to “bend” to your way and will instead of always moving first and then expect your action or approval.”

December 27/Weekend

Friday, December 27th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Grace: Old vs New.

We don’t sing the song Amazing Grace how sweet the sound for nothing. Grace really is amazing. I know for me understanding grace was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” on legalism that ruled my life.

But we tend to think of grace as a NT thing. So it is sometimes surprising to us when we realize there is tons of grace in the OT. Take, for example, the story of Abraham and Sarah; then Isaac and Rebecca; then Jacob and Esau. Abraham and Sarah waited 40 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise. Sarah thought she could help God along. Abraham was 140 when Isaac married Rebecca and she was barren. Isaac prayed and twins were born. But talk about family dysfunction! Isaac liked Esau; Rebecca favored Jacob. Jacob was a conniver; Esau disregarded his oldest son status. Jacob ran away from the comfort of the tents to live under the stars. He laid down his heard on a stone and ended up making a bargain with God. That is just the beginning of the grace stories in the OT.

The very fact God had not stepped in to slap a few on the back of the head with a huge “God slap” shows His patience. It also shows His grace. As Iain Wright says, “God is always better than we can imagine.”

I’m glad. I deserve more than just a “God slap.” I deserve a “God smack down.” Not just once, but over and over. I’m thankful for God’s display of grace in the OT and the NT. But I’m especially grateful for grace today-2019. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

“Father, thank you for showing grace in the OT; the NT; and especially today…to me. I’m singing (off key) ‘Amazing grace how sweet the sound.’ “

December 23

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

As it gets closer to Christmas my workload also amps due to the church serving breakfast on Christmas morning and also handing out at least 30 bags of groceries which will all be put together today. (There are actually 60 since not all the food will fit into one bag). So I am going to “cheat” again by using my #ChristmasChallenge devotion here.

My title for this devotion is Manger vs Cross.

I read the following quote:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ  brings us to God.

Growing up you really only think of Christmas-besides the whole Santa Claus and gift thing-as the occasion to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We like the story of the baby in the manger. It fits our “meek and mild” picture of Jesus. It fits our Away in a Manger and Silent Night theme.

But as C.S.Lewis says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I just finished reading again), “There is deeper magic here.” What is seen on the surface is just that: the surface. There is so much more to see and learn. There is so much more at work than just the birth; there is also the vision of the cross. Without doubt Jesus came with the specter of the cross in His sights. Phil.2 even tells us that. Jesus reminded His disciples over and over that the Son of Man must suffer and die.  The cross of Christ is always there. It is through the cross, and the cross only, that we find our way to God. It is only through the blood of Jesus that salvation is found.

But it is through the birth of Jesus as a baby, as God made flesh, that it all begins.  The quote again:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ brings us to God.

“Father, thank you for that truth. May this Christmas season take on extra meaning because it is more than a baby in a manger. It is also that baby on a cross giving Himself up for us.”

December 18

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Waiting Present vs Waiting Future.

I don’t know about you but it seems like most of my life is spent waiting. I live in a town that has three traffic lights (I want to call them “stop” lights because that seems to be the name for me) on the main drag. The main drag is a state highway and it is not unusual for me to catch one, two or all three of the lights in one setting. So I sit…waiting.  There is a light outside of town near the church building where I work that is at a “T” intersection of two state highways-46 & 43. 46 is the main one so when I come from the office, St Hwy 43 is a pressure sensitive light. It is also affected by the traffic coming either way on 46. I have been known to sit for 3 minutes waiting for the light to change. And please don’t get me started on the Super _____ that has only a couple of register lines open during the busiest time of the year!!

Waiting is not fun. But there are times waiting is absolutely essential. Waiting on God’s plan to unfold is sometimes unpleasant. Waiting on God’s timing to “play itself out” is frustrating. We wait and wait and wait. And nothing seemingly is happening.

In reality something is happening. It is happening in us. I am either waiting in the present or waiting in the future. What I mean by that is I either see Him with me in the present or I worry about seeing Him in the future. I cannot live in or predict the future. I don’t have a DeLorean. James says not to worry about the future. (James 4:13-15) Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow. Today had enough trouble of its own. (Mt.6:34)

Jim Elliott, the martyred missionary, is credited with saying, “Wherever you are, be all there.” That’s great advice! Live in the present. I can’t change tomorrow because I don’t even know what’s coming. Live today.

Now…that’s not saying I live for today and take no thought for tomorrow. I certainly don’t want to plant bad seeds today that will bear bad or rotten fruit tomorrow. But I don’t have to worry about tomorrow.

“Father, you have promised Your presence past, present and future. Help me to live for You today. Help me to live in the present in Your presence.”

I have been writing at my other blog on #ChristmasChallenge. I’d like to invite you to visit there for a Christmas meditation.  Here is the current post

December 4

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Christmas vs Easter.

Celebratory vs Solemn.

That’s often the way we look at Christmas and Easter. Christmas Eve vs Good Friday. The tree vs the Cross. Not until Easter morning-Resurrection Sunday-does the 40 days leading up to it become a celebration.

In my mind it is not a case of either/or.  It is a case of both/and. In God’s grand scheme Christmas is not more celebratory than Easter. Sure Christmas is a time of celebration-nowadays dating back to the day after Thanksgiving (and now creeping closer to Halloween). And Easter tends to be more of a one day of celebration.

But if you really think about it, without Christmas Easter makes no sense. And without Easter Christmas is only an introduction but has no conclusion. Taken separately Christmas speaks of a birth; Easter speaks of a death & resurrection. Seen together we see Someone born; we see Someone die; we see Someone born to die.

We often hear during this time of the year the slogan “Wise men still seek Him.” True. But not just Christmas. Wise men worship the child who was born and the man who would die.

“Father, I thank you for the story of Christmas. I thank you for the story of Easter. And I thank you they make more sense and have more meaning when seen together.”