God’s Plan

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August 14

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Healthy vs Sickly.

We all know people. “After what he/she did to me there is absolutely no way I will forgive.” “How come when I do something it always {Note: bad word to us} ends up bad, but every time {again…bad choice of words} they do something they come out smelling like a rose.”  Or some variation of those.

We all know people. What am I saying? That sometimes describes me!! Please tell me if I’m wrong. Does that not describe each of us from time to time? Can I honestly say I am free of envy and jealousy? No. If I’m honest. No. To say I don’t wish for more at times would be a bold-faced lie. Just the other day I was telling Jo that there are times I have to fight getting down on myself because of a financial choice I made back in 1974. I chose to opt out of SS. So to this day I have nothing. I was foolish not to save, to invest (didn’t know how and often didn’t have enough money). Fool is my name when it comes to that. So, unless God intercedes in a dramatic way, we will never have a retirement. Least not one of comfort. We will always struggle.

When I struggle with defies Proverbs 14:30: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” I look at retired people who are generous (some have even given us money to help with the travel to Ohio for the mess with Jo’s sister), and know that cannot be us in our later years. Poof! Gone is the tranquil heart; hello envy.

But I also know I wasn’t made for that. I am not meant to envy or for jealousy or greed or longing for more. I am not meant to be a slave to fear.

“Father, set me free from envy and jealousy. Set me free from worrying about the future. Today has enough trouble of its own.  Help me to live in a healthy relationship with You which will keep away envy and keep my spirit from rotting away.”

July 31

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

I actually wrote the bulk of this Monday morning at Jo’s sister’s apartment that would see us for the final time that day. I was going to title this An Observation. But this morning I went back to it and reworked some of it, mostly by adding some thoughts. But when I reworked it this morning I decided on a different title:

Stretching vs. Atrophy.

Here is the reworked devotion:

This Monday as I read my devotion from “Faith” from an Our Daily Bread collection of devotions, knowing today would the last day we would ever see this apartment and all that has taken place over the last month or so, I had to make some observations. The author’s devotion was on Stretching. As I sit down to have my Quiet Time,  the apartment is quiet. The outside is quiet. My soul is quiet and at rest. Today we pack up and move what remains in Vicki’s apartment. It has been a “stretching” experience in so many ways.

For Jo it has stretched her far beyond her comfort zone. I have not seen her cry like she has in a long, long time. Maybe after my second bike accident when I was seriously injured and the ensuing trauma which followed. Jo has had to go to bank after bank-back and forth-many times. Talk to Job & Family Services (a government agency…’Nuff said0. Apply for Medicaid for her sister. Become POA.  Make future funeral arrangements. Nursing home. Hospital. Phone calls. Way, way, way out of her comfort zone.  She’s a saint putting up with all she has.

For me it was giving up the routine of my job. Not being there for what I consider my responsibility has been hard. It has been hard to leave for weeks (3 of the last 5 to clean out this hoarder’s apartment. Scrubbing on my hands and knees to clean up…stuff. I cannot say enough about how Ryan and Diana (youth pastor and secretary) have held down the fort. Nor can I praise the leadership of OVCF enough for letting me come and go as I have, telling me “you have got to take care of your family.”

Stretching is painful. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery and stretching was vital to recovery of motion. I’ve had meniscus and collarbone surgery. Stretching was vital to recovery.  One of the most important recovery mechanisms after a bike ride is stretching. In the life of the Christ-follower, stretching is vital to growth. It hurts to stretch muscles that want to curl up and atrophy. It hurts to stretch spiritual muscles that will do the same. But it is absolutely a necessity. Stretching helps us to focus not on what has been but on what will be. In our lives, stretching will help us focus not on what we have been, but on who we can become. It is easy to see ourselves with all our failures and shortcomings, but God looks beyond that to see who we are as His new creation through the power of His Spirit.

“Father, thank you for stretching me. Thank you for giving me (sometimes) unpleasant situations that challenge me to break out of sameness and safety and step out onto the water. As I take those steps-present and future-help me to keep my eyes on You, not the waves kicking up. And help me to remember this is all in your plan for me. Stretch me where I need stretched.”

July 29

Monday, July 29th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Do vs Done.

One of the hardest things-I think-for many to grasp is the relative “ease” to obtain salvation. There is in many of us this feeling like salvation can’t be that easy; there has to be something I must do. So we get into this whole works and earning my way into salvation. We find ourselves in a game we play of “If I do this, this and this then I will be more acceptable to God.”

But that kind of striving takes away the sheer joy of unearned salvation. It’s like at Christmas time. Let’s suppose you as a parent or grandparent give your child/grandchild a present but say, “Now, you can have this for the price of $20 or (name your price) or even $1! No matter how you look at it, that is not a gift. A gift is not something that has to be paid for-no matter how much or how little.

I’ve heard it put this way:

Salvation is not a matter of what you do; it is a matter of what has been done.

Our salvation is not dependent on what we have or can do.  Our salvation is dependent on what Christ has done. The Bible is clear: “By grace you have been saved through faith. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone can boast.” [Eph.2:8-9] I like that last phrase. Actually, the whole thing but that last phrase tells me two things: 1) I have no reason to boast about my goodness; and 2) neither does anyone else. My good works; their good works; will not endear me or them to God. I have nothing to brag about.

“Father, thank you for changing the word from ‘do’ to ‘don’t.’ Thank you that my salvation, or anyone’s for that matter, does not rely on how good I am. I have no reason to boast. I’m a sinner saved by your amazing grace.”

July 25

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

My title for this devotion is My Wondering vs His Purpose.

When I was growing up, one of the questions teenagers asked was, “What am I here for?” I don’t know if that was a question asked by teens before that time or if the ’60s brought that question to the forefront. The ’60s was an age of upheaval and of being unsure of things. So we often asked “What is my purpose in life?” As I recall a parachurch ministry had a tract based on that question: “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”

As I was reading I Chronicles I read the section (Chapter 17) of David’s desire to build God a house. He was somewhat embarrassed that his house was better than the house where the Ark was and God’s presence was. He thought one of his purposes in life, especially after having his own house built, was to build a better house for the Ark. But Nathan took God’s words to David that building Him a house was not his purpose. His purpose (to make a long story short) was to be king. To act like a king. To fight like a king. To rule like a king.

In Psalm 138:8 it says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” David knows whereof he writes. He knows God will fulfill His purpose for me because David saw it in his own life. And no matter what it is God sticks with me. “His steadfast love endures forever.”

“Father, You are true to Your Word. You promised it. It shall be. Fulfill our purpose in me. Fulfill your purpose for me. I know you will bring it to completion and finish what you started. [Phil.1:6]. “

July 22

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Calm Waiting vs Anxious Waiting.

One of the hardest things to do-at least in my mind-is to wait. For years I have said that God has three answers to our prayers: Yes. No. Wait awhile. We aren’t too fond of the No because that means we have been denied. We like the Yes because that means God has “agreed” with us about our need. It’s the “wait awhile” that is sometimes hard to accept.

David Rupert, in his new book Living a Life of Yes says there are three kinds of dreams: Fulfilled (Yes). Denied (No).  And Delayed (wait awhile). The same thing said about answers to prayer can be said about dreams.

The delay-wait awhile-is tough. God’s promise to Abraham took 25 years to happen! Look what happened in the interim due to Abraham and Sarah’s inability to wait.  They weren’t very good at it.

Neither am I. Maybe that’s why Psalm 131:2 spoke to me: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within.” A weaned child is being fed. He is content.  I was struck by the words “calmed and quieted my soul.” So much of patient waiting relies on that…something I’m not very good at from time to time. But. need. to. get. better. at!

“Father, help me to learn to calm and quiet my soul. Help me to see your hand in my ‘wait awhile.’ Help me to wait calmly and quietly as you work. Help me to allow you time to unfold your plan.”

I will be in Ohio for most of this week bringing our job cleaning Jo’s sister’s apartment to an end. Next Sunday we drive there to load a Penske truck on Monday to bring things home. I will post this week as I have time and internet (she does not have it in her apartment).  Your prayers would be appreciated.

June 13

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Education vs Usefulness.

There are certain subjects I try to avoid like the plague. Math. Science. Chemistry. To name a few. Why? Because I either had a bad experience with them or I wear a dunce cap concerning them. Those three subjects especially are not in my wheel house of comfort. One thing I can say though is that I am fortunate I had the opportunity to learn and was able to learn. I’m no rocket scientist, mind you, but I’m grateful for both the opportunity and ability.

Fortunately, one of the requirements for being a follower of Christ is not education, smarts, big brain, or whatever else you may want to call it. What matters more is the willingness to be used.

When a young boy came forward at a meeting to follow Jesus, people whispered behind his back. “It’s only a gypsy boy.” Rodney Smith didn’t listen to those voices.  He heard only One-the voice of the One calling him. He was the teenage son of uneducated gypsy parents. He went out and got himself a Bible and an English dictionary and taught himself to read. Gypsy Smith became a prominent evangelist in the US and the UK in the late 1800’s.

It really doesn’t matter how educated/uneducated you are; how wealthy/poor you are; how refined/unrefined you are; how “classy”/unclassy you are; how bright/dull you are. What matters is how useful you are willing to be. In my mind, the ultimate question is this: Am I willing to be used by God in whatever situation, wherever he places me, when He asks me? God is not interested in my education-prowess. He wants to know if I’m willing to be His.

“Father, You’ve not asked me to be super-smart, super-intelligent, super anything. You have asked me to be available, to be willing to be used. So please take what I have to offer-no matter how great, no matter how little-and use me for You.”

May 16

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

My title is My Plans vs God’s Plan.

Such a mishmash of reading this morning! At first glance none of it seemed to mesh. It was like an ADD reading morning. 🙂

  • Saul & Jonathan are killed. David laments their loss and is then made king of Judah. Abner names Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, as king. Abner kills Asahel but Joab, Asahel’s brother, through some deception kills Abner.  (head spinning).
  • Read Psalm 58 & 59. Both are psalms of David. Psalm 59 has some good passages all centered around God being David’s strength and fortress.
  • In a SHELTER in the time OF STORM, P.D.Tripp ends a prayer with these words: “Please touch me by Your grace so that there’ll never be a day where I haven’t somehow someway gazed upon your beauty.”

I’m thinking, “What?” Can anything be so far apart? Then I read a devotion from Ride On! (a cycling devotion book) that talked about God’s plan. I may make plans but ultimately it comes down to God’s being the ones that matter. As one of the riders said, “The race didn’t turn out like we thought it should, but it surely turned out the way God thought it should.”

I started thinking (yeah dangerous thought). God doesn’t mind me making plans. Sometimes I do; sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants. But ultimately it is His plan that wins out. I’m not a Calvinist who believes in predestination, however, I do believe God knows all, and that includes what I will choose. I heard it put this way: “The plan was predestined, not the man.” The plan for Jesus was the cross but at any time He could have said no.

So…how does that tie in with today’s mishmash of material?

  1. David was chosen king. It was God’s time when David assumed kingship of the nation. He bided his time waiting for God to say, “Now.”
  2. David’s words: “O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. My God in His steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.” (Ps.59:9-10) Words of strength, power, submission and encouragement (for me) to the plan of God.
  3. All that happens is under God’s purview and timing. It is all to give Him glory and for me to see His hand working in all things.

“Father, let me be submissive to Your plan no matter how long it takes to come about. My plans are insignificant compared to Your plan. Let me not get frustrated with You and Your plan unfolds.”