Friday, July 26, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 NAS)

Expect the Unexpected
“Don't put your hopes up too high or expect too much because the higher you are the deeper you might fall.”

Such an advice is probably not unfamiliar to most of us. Yet too often a door closes in our lives when we least expect it. Our circumstances change all the time and once in a while we may succumb to the crumbling effects of shattered dreams, broken relationships, losing someone we loved or other unexpected occurrences.

Perhaps, we had made plans to accomplish something in life but failed to get it or perhaps we had relied too much on someone or something to achieve our goals without whom or which we feel helpless. When we put too high hopes on something or someone, sometimes God may choose to take it away from us so we may learn to depend on Him.

After Job lost his cattle, flocks, camels, servants and all his children in an unexpected turn of events, he did not blame God. Instead, he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:13-22).

How do we respond to the unexpected? Do we bless God or curse our misfortunes? Are we putting our hopes up too high or expecting too much? Is our reliance on God or on our worldly riches or people?

The Bible says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). If we think we are standing firm, therefore, we need to be careful to take heed lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

If our reliance is on God, there is no need for us to worry about the unexpected because if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? Our God knows the plans He has for us; plans to prosper us and not harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

We can expect the unexpected because no test or temptation has overtaken God’s people but such as is common to man. Our God is faithful; He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. With the temptation, He will provide a way out so we can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

When a door is closed at a time we least expect, rest assured God will open another. He knows our deeds and has placed before us an open door that no one can shut if we have kept His word and not denied His name (Revelation 3:8).

Dear Lord, we do not know what the future holds, but we know You hold the future. In You therefore we put our complete trust. You O God are the Almighty and we need not fear what lies ahead because You know Your plans for us. Help us prevail over our circumstances and bless Your name regardless the dire situation we are in. Show us the way of escape that we may endure it. We are forever grateful to You Lord because You have richly supplied all things for our enjoyment.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Shepherd for the Journey

Shepherd for the Journey
In my longing to be more like Jesus, I’ve undertaken the study of his “I am” statements as recorded in the book of John.

Jesus said “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10: 11)

I am not a shepherd. My herding experience includes kittens, children, and occasional teenagers … but no sheep.

Interestingly, Jesus was not a shepherd by trade either. He was a tekton (carpenter or builder) before becoming the traveling Rabbi. Nevertheless, the metaphor captures a critical dimension of Jesus’ life and ministry.

“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.” (John 10:11b-12)

Now, this I need! I need a shepherd. Acknowledging our need for the Shepherd is the first step on the path to the Kingdom. We are not independent. Not self-sufficient. We do not inhabit personal islands.

We need a shepherd because we wander. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). We wander from the path. God chose his Son to guide us. Neither the nation approach nor the vocal prophets of the Old Testament succeeded in drawing people into the restored relationship with the Lord.

Jesus alone is our Shepherd. He gave his life for us, his sheep. Following his death, the Holy Spirit came to guide and counsel and encourage. We continue to learn from Jesus’ Word! He promised to keep and hold us forever.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me … They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:14, 16)

Truly, my goal is not to own my own sheep pen. I am first and foremost a sheep among my Lord’s flock. As such, I seek to know his voice and know him and follow him.

An addendum: there are times when the Lord calls us to shepherd his flock. When this call comes, may we take this step with all the humility and love and joy that the Lord himself exhibited in his incarnate life!

Your turn

  • Where are you with the Shepherd?
  • Have you entered the Shepherd’s pen? Do you know His voice?
  • Are you competing with the Shepherd for His flock or for His attention?

Be at peace. Know that the the Shepherd is ever watchful and fully in control! You can rest and you can graze. Sharon R. Hoover

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ultimate Stain Remover

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 NIV)

Ultimate Stain Remover
My friend has a theory that when you get married God gives you a marriage download. All of a sudden those household mysteries, like how to cook a nutritious dinner every night, and impressing your father-in-law with your sporting knowledge, just fall into your head and you become the perfect spouse. I don't know about you but when I got married I missed out.

I wish I received one thing in a download package when I got married. 

All I want is the ability to remove stains from the brand new white cotton linen my husband and I bought right after our honeymoon. I loved the fresh, crisp look of the white sheets and carefully made sure to wash them only with other white clothes. 

One afternoon, when the bedding was blown off the line onto the sand was all it took to turn my beautiful white linen into a patchwork of browns. A bit like sin, dirt crept onto them when I wasn’t looking, and caused a stain I couldn’t remove. 

I really tried to get those stains out. 
I tried bleach.
I tried leaving them out for the good old African sun. 
I tried miracle stain removing paste.

Nothing would completely remove the marks. My struggle to remove these blemishes made me think a little harder about Isaiah 1:18 and the miracle God performs when he takes our bright red sins and turns them as white as the froth on a cappuccino.

God hasn’t just tried (like me) to scrub out the sin in your life but he’s actually removed all trace of it (it’s like you have brand new sheets not just bleached white ones). He’s given us a brand new life, not just a new lease on life. Don’t take this gift he’s given us for granted.

Have you ever sat and thought about the miracle God has performed in removing our sins for good? Take a moment to thank him for making you completely new. Wendy van Eyck

Friday, July 5, 2013

Deep Water

When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2 NLT)

Deep Water
I can remember taking swimming lessons as a child. In order to pass, we were required to jump off the diving board. This terrified me, but it was the final step in proving we could swim. I did not have a lot of confidence in my ability to accomplish this task. Finally, the instructor swam out near where I would resurface after jumping and assured me that he would be there if I needed assistance. The deep water terrified me, but knowing someone was there to save me if I could not make it on my own gave me the courage to complete the task.

Sometimes in life, things get so difficult you literally feel like you are drowning. The more you struggle the deeper you seem to go. Maybe things seem totally hopeless. You try your best, but the situation just continues to get worse. Isaiah 43:2 reminds us that no matter the battle, God is with us. He will not let us drown in the raging river or be burned up by the fire.

Exodus 14:13 says, 'The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.' In deep water sometimes you cannot tell which way it is to the surface. It is a natural instinct to fight for your next breath, but if you will be still your body will typically begin to surface. Our lives are the same way. Sometimes, we just need to be still and let God fight for us. Soon we will see the light begin to emerge at the surface of our problem as God fights for us.

What is the deep water in your life today? Maybe it’s a relationship that seems to be crumbling at your feet, an addiction that controls your every thought, or financial difficulties that consume all your energy. Whatever the struggle, God will be with you. He will not let you drown! Tresa Walker