God’s Plan

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October 21

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

I recently finished a book by Tony Evans called Kingdom Heroes. It was based on Hebrews 11 and the heroes of the faith written about there. One of those heroes was an unlikely person-a woman named Rahab.

Rahab is first mentioned in Joshua 2 where she harbored the Jewish spies in Jericho. She listened to her own people talk about the God who was doing powerful things and she believed what they said. She hid the spies and then helped them escape, but not before she had secured the safety of her and her family when the Israelites came for Jericho. We know from Matthew 1 that it was successful; she married Salmon; they had Boaz (husband to Ruth); who had Jesse, the father of David.

All of that is a wonderful testimony to God’s plan and protection.  But the story of Rahab is also a testimony of grace unlimited. In our human way of thinking, could there be anyone more undeserving of God’s grace than a prostitute? But in God’s way of thinking could there be anyone more in need of it? And while we may say yes to the undeserving part, we must also recognize that if God did it for her, what does that say about us? To me, it only says one thing: grace is for me too. Abundant grace. I may not be a prostitute, but I am a sinner.  A sinner in need of grace. God can and has taken people with bad reputations, with those society (and the church) think are too far gone and restored them. He transforms even the sloppiest, dirtiest, and most sinful people into “trophies” for His hall of faith.

May I be one of them.

“Father, I thank you a thousand times over for your marvelous grace. You showed that grace in Rahab’s life. You show it in mine. May I be a testimony to that.”

October 18

Monday, October 18th, 2021

As a parent, you love and raise your child(ren) to let them go. You discipline them when they need it. You laugh with them. You cry with them when their heart is broken. You let them spread their wings. And then you let them fly. But through it all…you love them fiercely. You watch them grow into fine, principled young women (in my case). You watch them become good at what they do. You smile when they marry. You are sad if they divorce.

But no father, to quote Theoden from Lord of the Rings, “should ever have to bury his own son.” We were spared that sadness last week, but it is hard to watch your child suffer, no matter the age. I told Jo just this past Friday that it is still hard to believe that Tami had a heart attack.

But, it happened, and I don’t want to sound calloused, I still did not despair. I knew she was in good hands, the BEST. Then today I read Psalm 112:1 and also verse 7: “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the person who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments…He will not fear bad news; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

I have an online friend whose husband has gone through several heart procedures. While there is concern, there is no fear. And while there was obvious concern for Tami’s health, there was no fear. She’s in better hands than I have ever given her…the Father’s. And in those hands she will stay. And in those hands I will let her lie.

“Father, thank You that Your hands are strong and sure and enfolding.”

October 14

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

I’ve contemplated what to write this morning based on events of the past day.  First, from my Bible reading this morning are three passages:

Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make His deeds known among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Tell of all His wonders. Boast in His holy name; May the heart of those who seek the Lord be joyful.” (103:1-3)

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For his mercy is everlasting.”(106:1)

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence , And His children will have refuge.” (Pr. 14:26)

I needed those verses this morning. Yesterday about 10:00 I got a text from Tami, our daughter, that she needed me to take her to the ER. An episode at school had the school nurse tell the principal, “She needs to get to the ER.” Jo and I found ourselves sitting in the ER with her until 7:00, except for a short reprieve of coming home to grab a bite to eat and to get some of Tami’s stuff. Late last night, about 10:00, Tami texted me saying they said she was having signs of a heart attack and they were doing a heart cath this morning. She has been dealing with parosmia (distorted taste and smell) since March 1, a side effect of COVID. Food smells horrible. All meats smell rotten or like a dead animal and tastes the same. Being around certain smells has her wanting to head to the bathroom (and she teaches Kindergarten kids). We thought, at first, all the symptoms she had might be from that. We will find out some answers today, I hope. Meanwhile, I’m clinging to those 3 verses.

Another request: my good friend, Ryan S (techgeek), who comments on this blog and is my admin, emailed me yesterday that his wife’s sister’s house burnt down yesterday and it appears to be a total loss. I don’t know her name (but God does).

Would you please stop and pray for these two requests? And would you please pray for Ryan and Amanda and for me and Jo? I’m trusting those verses to be true.  Thanks.

October 11

Monday, October 11th, 2021

Our small group has been discussing the topic of suffering. Last night we talked about suffering being fair or not.

We all came to the conclusion that suffering being “fair” should not be in our vocabulary.  It most certainly is not a biblical word. I think (personally) what happens to many of us is we begin to compare our situation with someone else’s and the word “fair” comes out. How many times have I heard, “I don’t understand. I give my life to Jesus, serve Him, and this is what I get”? How many times? Innumerable. We need to ditch the “It’s not fair talk” and get back to “God-talk.” We need to start saying, “What does God want me to learn or to become out of this?”

Here are some one sentence thoughts I gleaned and wrote down from last night’s study:

  • Right in the middle of his suffering, Paul broke out in the doxology. See Romans 11:33-36.
  • In our future and about our future, God owes us no explanation.
  • Society has become a victim-driven society.
  • When you throw a pity party no one wants to come. (I love this one)
  • When we open the door to victimhood, we allow ourselves to be slaves.

And to close this devotion, here is a thought from something I read from John Piper just this morning:

Do not think that because you experience adversity in your little world of experience, the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity or our fame but our holiness that He seeks with all His heart.”  –“Good News of Great Joy”- p. 34

“Father, may I see suffering, not as something unfair or to avoid, but as a tool to help me grow into being more like Jesus.”

October 1

Friday, October 1st, 2021

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my thoughts on Luke 1 were getting way out of hand (too long) so I thought I would split my thoughts into two posts.  It will certainly make it easier to stomach. 🙂

In yesterday’s devotion I wrote about Zechariah’s hesitancy and ultimate acceptance of Gabriel’s words (God’s plan), as well as my admiration for Elizabeth’s willingness to go along with God’s plan. We have no record of her thoughts until later in Luke 1 when she visits with Mary. 

But let’s move on to Mary and some observations I want to make:

1. Mary.  I suspect we all know the story. After being told what she could expect-“You will conceive and bring forth a son” she was also told who that son would be. Here is what hit me this morning. Zechariah was struck dumb when he asked, “How will I know this?” (v.18). Why was Mary not dealt with in the same way? Why was she dealt with differently when she said, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Was it the question, “How will this be?” as opposed to “How will I know?” Was it more expected out of a mature and aged man who knew of the coming King as opposed to a young teenage girl? I guess we will never know while on this earth.

2. Mary’s response “My it be done to me according to Your word” rattles me. Here she is-an unmarried, virgin teenage girl whose whole world just got rocked with this earth-shattering announcement.  “May it be done to me.” WOW!  I’m not a Mary-worshiper by any stretch, but even someone who isn’t has to be impressed.

I tend to be more like Zechariah than Mary. At least I have been in the past. “Are you sure, Lord?” “Seriously God?” I have often questioned God a lot about things which were different and out-of-the-ordinary. Still do at times, especially when events happen which I don’t understand. As I’ve gotten older and (hopefully) wiser and more mature, I’ve accepted God’s work and way somewhat easier. Not all the time but it is better than it was. 🙂 I still tend to question, but I believe that is okay. As long as those questions lead me to seek Him and not my own way.

How about you? Me? I like Christmas in September (yesterday’s post) and October (today’s). It has some great lessons which, like Christmas, should be all year ’round…at least the spirit of it.

“Father, may I be willing like Mary, even when something seems strange to say, ‘I am yours. Let it be done to me according to Your word.’ ”

September 30

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

September 30, 2021. Christmas is just around the corner…less than 3 months away. I read Luke 1 this morning as I read through the NT again this year, and it made me think of Christmas. In July, Jo watched a whole month of Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. I walked in once and said, “Oh look! Snow!” And it was really snowing. People were wearing heavy coats, hats, gloves, and their breath was able to be seen. B-r-r-r-r.

Seemed strange to me when it was 100 degrees outside and the TV was showing snow falling. And it seems a little strange reading Luke 1 in September knowing most will see Christmas in those words. And rightly so. If I was a betting man I would be “bet” more sermons are preached on Luke 1 & 2 during December than at any other time of the year. (I am s-o-o-o-o-o smart don’t you think?) 🙂 

But I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of other thoughts which I’m sure you have heard or thought of before which hit me this morning:

1. Zechariah’s (Z’s) lack of understanding but willingness to accept Gabriel’s message…and its meaning. I know Gabriel said “because you did not believe” but far be it from me to question Z’s questions. Talk about an “out-of-left-field!” announcement!  He is minding his own business, doing his priestly duties when BAM!

2. He learned to trust. He came out of the temple unable to speak. But what about Elizabeth, his aged, long-suffering wife? What a shock it had to be to her as well! Old. Infertile. Beyond child-bearing age. “You’re pregnant.” Nothing is said about her reaction. Nothing. We can talk about Z’s hesitancy and acceptance, but let’s not forget Elizabeth.

There is something to be said about people like Zechariah and Elizabeth, people who are willing to question (Z) and then accept God’s program for them. I admire them, and find myself really admiring Elizabeth as I read about her later in the same chapter of Luke.

“Father, may I be a willing servant to accept Your will and plan for my life, even though I have no clue what it might entail.”

As I wrote this, and even more as I now type this, I began to realize how long this post was getting to be. So I finished writing it and have decided to post the rest of it tomorrow.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on Mary in tomorrow’s devotion.

September 20

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Sitting the bench is no fun.

Because I was a fairly good athlete I seldom sat the bench. That is, until I hit high school basketball. I started playing Little League baseball at Age 8. There no such torture chamber as T-ball or “coach pitch” back then. It was us playing ball. I seemed to have a knack for baseball. I didn’t start basketball until 9th grade. I was tall but grew 3-4″ in one year (I had the achy knees to prove it). I didn’t know how to dribble a basketball and run so while the team practiced I did too-on the sidelines running up and down the side of the court dribbling the ball.

I played some as a JV in grades 10-11 and thought I would have my chance to play as a Sr. I even went to summer ball. Nope. Coach was looking to next year so I sat the bench. I didn’t even get a chance to play in my last game as a Senior (but coach said he heard me yelling for the team.  Big deal!)

Moving onto college I played as a starter all 3 years (I didn’t play my senior year since I chose to get married and actually try to study). The only time I sat the bench was for a breather or coach wanted me to be playing later in the game and stay out of foul trouble.

I hated sitting the bench. I felt like a loser. I never had my parents come watch a high school game so I wasn’t disappointing them. I just felt useless at times. I was a practice dummy-used in practice to prepare the team for the opposing team.

I dreamed of playing professional sports. I know now I was never good enough. And never would have been.

Bob Goff reminded me there is no shame in being on the bench. He said,

The dream He (God) put in your heart are dreams He still wants to fulfill through you today. He didn’t create any of us to just be practice buddies or water boys-there’s no sideline to God’s story of redemption, and there’s no bench. (#262-p.311)

You know? He is right. All that “splinter gathering” I did was molding me to wait, but also showing me I have value-as a pastor-not as a ball player. It just took me awhile to realize it. (I Cor. 12:7)

“Thank you Father for showing me that You have no intention of me sitting on the bench. You have me in Your game and a highly valued member of Your team.”

September 17

Friday, September 17th, 2021

3 chapters. 3 passages.

I’ve been reading through Psalms again-my second time this year. I’m using a different translation this time through-one I am getting more familiar with and have really grown to love. The NASB2020. But the translation really is unimportant to the weight and import of these 3 passages.

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.” (Psalm 61:2b-3a)

“My soul waits in silence for God alone; From Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62: 1-2)  {Note: for an added bonus read verses 5-8}

“God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and exhausted land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

These verses came home to me recently as I was visiting with someone. This man’s life had been controlled by alcohol and at the ripe young age of 67, he came to know Jesus as his Savior. He is now 78 and has not had a drink in all those years. He speaks of being in the muck and being pulled out in his former job (he is retired) with a major pipeline. His reference to Psalm 69 was so refreshing because he was able to make a great application with it. And he also spoke of how Jesus did that for him. He now stands on the Rock-Jesus-his refuge and strength. What a refreshing visit it was!  May his tribe increase!!

May my heart be as tender to God’s help and saving grace as his.

“Father, You are my strength. My rock. My refuge. May I always acknowledge that and live that.”

September 16

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

One of the most vivid images/pictures which has always interested me has been the potter/clay one. Maybe it is because I’ve never done pottery but have only watched it being done. But there are a lot of scenes like that. I might watch a cooking show with Jo. Looks intriguing and sometimes very tasty, but because I don’t cook it doesn’t inspire me to learn. I suppose it should.  But in my mind it is fine for someone else! Just not me! Give me my bicycle!! 🙂

But I guess what strikes me about the potter and clay is its biblical reference and picture. Isaiah 64: 6,8-9 is a picture of the potter and clay. Isaiah pulls no punches in verse 8 when he says, “But now, LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter, And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

WOW! Isaiah, as I said, pulls no punches. God is our Father. God is the potter. We are the clay. So simple to see. He is in control. He is the One who shapes us. He is the One who molds us, getting His hands filled with dirt and clay. And here is the hard part for us-starting over shaping us when we are not compliant or stubborn or need re-shaped.

That is only part of the process! Then the newly-shaped pottery is put into a kiln and fired. Do you see the application for us? Consider these words from Isaiah: “And all of us are the work of Your hand.”  He makes no mistakes.

“Father, may I be moldable clay in Your hands.”

September 2

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

As I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s devotion, the devotion was too long to have it as one. So I made the decision after writing it to split it into two.  This is a continuation of yesterday’s devotion.

As we talk about increasing versus decreasing our faith; as we talk about just “going through” versus “growing through” something, I’d like to focus on a very familiar passage of Scripture.  I know these verses can be overused (often consigned to “Jesus junk”), or even misused (especially by charlatans), but please read these verses S-L-O-W-L-Y and meditate on them as you read:

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NASB2020)

People latch onto that prosperity word and name-it and claim-it and think God is obligated to give material prosperity. But do you see the latter part? “You will call.” “You will seek.” “You will find.”

God wants us to pursue Him. Sort of like what is said of David: “He is a man after my own heart.”  David pursued God with a passion. Sure, he stumbled, but his passionate God-heart always brought him back to the heart of worship. Instead of expecting God to drop things in our lap because we think (or someone has told us) He is obligated to do so, let’s throw that junk aside and have a heart that pursues Him.

If I remember correctly, did Someone not say, “If you seek you will find”?

“Father, may my heart run after you with an undeniable passion.”

Late addition: after reading Psalms today I feel I need to add something to this devotion. In my morning reading today, I read the following words: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?”  Psalm 42:1-2 (NASB2020) The picture of the tired, desperately thirsty deer running from his “hunter” who finally reaches water where he can refresh his spirit, is one that should picture me, you.  We are being pursued every day by forces designed to take us down and out, to capture or “kill” us. We MUST find our rest, our refreshment in the Father.