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Archive for the ‘God’s Will’ Category

 

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Have you heard or read such statements as these?

  • Dream big! With God you can go as far as you can think or imagine.
  • Faith may not make things easy; but it does make them possible.
  • When God makes a promise he also makes a provision.

All three statements are valid IF the promises we’ve embraced coincide with God’s plan. If not, God may not be making that dream come true, or turning the unimaginable into possible, or making provision for a particular fulfillment.

That means the perfect wife or husband may not show up, the perfect job may not open up, the perfect family may not be delivered up, and the perfect ministry opportunity (in our view) may not match up with those making the choices.

What do we do when our dreams seem to be fading away like vapor?

 

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We need to remember:

 

  1. God is not limited to our timeframe.

 

We know that, right?  Sometimes God requires a waiting period before making our dreams reality. The dream will be fulfilled—but in his time.  Scripture is full of examples of those who had to wait; we’ve considered them before:  Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David—to name a few.

Eventually their dreams came true.  Abraham became a father, Jacob was blessed with twelve sons, Joseph  became prime minister of Egypt, and David, the king of Israel.

However, we’d be wise to hold onto our dreams with a light grip, as these same four patriarchs demonstrate:

  • Abraham saw the birth of only one son of promise, not exactly the nation God foretold.
  • The full extent of blessing promised to Jacob was not fulfilled until the birth of Jesus.
  • David dreamed of erecting a temple for God, and though he collected an impressive store of materials, the privilege of building went to his son, Solomon.

 

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Perhaps, like these Bible heroes, God has chosen to fulfill our dreams after we’re gone.

I have to decide: Will I balk at such a reality or embrace it?

 

  1. Maybe my heart is set on the wrong dream—even though it seems right and worthwhile.

God may desire that I set aside my Plan A and take hold of his Plan B. Oh, but that sounds like settling, doesn’t it? Not at all. God’s plan is never second best. It’s always better (Hebrews 11:39-40)!

Also important to understand: God may have chosen me to be a foundation-builder—part of the preparation process. Someone else will be the presentation. John the Baptist is a perfect example, as he prepared the way for Jesus.

 

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Foundation builders serve as mentors, planners, and seed planters. Again, will I balk at such a reality or embrace it?

 

  1. We can be “certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

That includes this truth: When we do not see one promise (or more) being fulfilled, we can be certain other promises are. God is loving and good. Always. He will demonstrate his grace and compassion–no matter what.

Part of God’s goodness prompts him to foster within us: a) a deeper relationship with him (Jeremiah 33:3); b) greater obedience to his all-wise ways (Hebrews 12:7-11, 14), and c) greater spiritual strength (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Once we begin to realize the benefit of these blessings, other desires will fade in importance.

(Note to self: When my appreciation for spiritual blessings overrides my celebration of material and circumstantial blessings, I’ll know that the maturity James talked about is taking root.)

 

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I praise you, oh God, for your omnipotent ability to supply, guide, sustain, change, correct, and improve–in your time, for your good purpose. Help me to rely upon your love and wisdom to choose what’s best for me, and your power to live in godly ways for your glory. That is the way to a fulfilling, satisfying life!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.twitter.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.saltlakebiblecollege.org; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.knowing-jesus.com.)

 

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We’ve all heard the story of Joseph (or seen the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat). You’ll remember he’s the one who endured years of slavery and prison before his dreams (of bowing wheat sheaves and stars paying homage) came true.

We also know about Moses, an adopted prince in Pharaoh’s household who ended up in the wilderness herding sheep.  Forty years later God called him to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.

And we’re familiar with Paul who spent years traveling from place to place and, yes, suffering all kinds of trials—beatings, imprisonment, dangers, shipwrecks—all for the privilege of serving God, introducing people to Jesus and establishing churches.

These Biblical stories and others teach us to never give up, because we never know when God will show up to turn a prisoner into a prime minister, a shepherd into a great leader, or a Pharisee tentmaker into a world evangelist.

Then there’s Jeremiah. His is a different kind of story altogether. He was called by God to warn the inhabitants of Judah that destruction would come if they did not return to God and follow his ways. It was not a one-time message. Over a period of forty years Jeremiah spoke many times of coming doom.

 

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Almost no one listened. (A brief revival took place under King Josiah, but when he died, the people returned to their complacency and evil ways.)

We love the stories of Joseph, Moses, Paul, and others, whose perseverance was rewarded with success. But what about Jeremiah?

He, too, persevered through trials–poverty and deprivation, imprisonment and ill-treatment, rejection and ridicule. For what? According to the evidence (minimal results for his efforts), Jeremiah was a wretched failure. Yet he had obeyed God faithfully, endured patiently, and preached courageously.

Perhaps visible evidence is not the best way to quantify success.

Instead, the true measure of success involves our characters, not our acquisitions (Joshua 1:8).

 

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The true measure of success may include the tenacity to get up every day and face the same tasks as yesterday, to persistently make choices that further God’s objectives for each of us, and to remain steadfast even when discouraged (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Last, a true measure of success is how our choices honor God (1 Kings 2:3). Jeremiah may not have turned thousands back to Yahweh, but that was not due to his lack of effort or disobedience to God. Jeremiah doggedly preached to the people of Judah—month after month, year after year.

So the true measure of success includes: 1) pursuing godly character, 2) persevering toward God-given purpose, and 3) making choices that honor him.

 

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Today, such successful people might look like:

  • The parent who has put his career on hold to invest time in his young children.
  • the business owner who drives a twelve-year old car so he can give generously to ministries.
  • The college student slowly working her way through school, anxious to return to her inner city neighborhood and teach school

For those of us looking for that kind of success, Jeremiah is our hero.

He lived out these precepts :

  • Do our prayerful best and leave the results with God.
  • Press on–day by day, month by month, year by year if necessary. Allow such perseverance to build our trust in God and strengthen our character.
  • Persist until God tells us to stop. (How do we know we’ve reached that moment? Peace, not uncertainty, will fill our spirits.)

We may not understand what God is doing, but we know him. And he is holy love and perfect wisdom.*

 

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*Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, p. 129.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.christianquotes.info; http://www.pilgrimsrock.com.)

 

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Say the word, “blessing,” and what immediately comes to mind?

For me, it’s happy events and lovely gifts, engineered or bestowed by God out of his loving kindness.

But James, the brother of Jesus, saw a different side of blessing: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides” (James 1:2, MSG, italics added).

Tests and challenges as gifts?! Sounds a bit daft—until we consider:

 

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Take, for example…

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF WANT

Do you wish you had a bigger house? A newer car? Better furniture? Consider yourself blessed, that you’re not like King Solomon–the wealthiest person who ever lived. For all his striving to achieve and accumulate, Solomon discovered that when every desire is gratified, the end result is nothing but meaningless smoke (Ecclesiastes 1:2, MSG).

The blessing of want protects us from the pit of depression caused by self-indulgence.

The blessing of want fosters contentment, as we learn to enjoy and be grateful for what we already have.

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF DIFFICULTY

Difficulties provide a surprising number of positive opportunities. Here are ten:

  • To press in closer to God and trust him more completely.
  • To experience the adventure of God’s sufficiency (Philippians 4:13) as he enables us to endure—in ways we never thought possible.

 

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  • To see how God will bring beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
  • To discover more of who God is.
  • To witness the fulfillment of his never-failing promises.
  • To present a sacrifice of praise to God, beginning with the affirmation that he has our best interests at heart—in spite of what we see.
  • To be prepared for greater usefulness for God (John 15:2), which fosters greater fulfillment and satisfaction in our spirits.

 

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  • To have a compelling story to share, as encouragement for others. Years ago I heard a speaker say, “With no test there is no testimony.” In the final analysis, I’d rather have the latter. You, too?
  • To become mature, complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). That doesn’t happen without trials.  As Thomas Carlyle wrote:

 

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(“No pressure, no diamonds.”)

  • To love our Savior more passionately. Josif Trif, a pastor from Romania during the days of Communism, said, “If it weren’t for Communism, I would not have loved our Lord as much. I kissed the cross the Communists gave me” (1).

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF FAILURE

If failure served no purpose in our lives, God would not allow it to happen. But since he does, we can know that failure is either for our benefit or for God’s glory—often both.

Failure is the soil from which great success can grow, beginning with a crop of positive character traits, such as perseverance, humility, and greater reliance upon God.

 

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Out of failure comes experience; from experience comes greater wisdom; and wisdom leads to a godly life.

“How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because it is they who will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6, ISV)!

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Crazy as it sounds, I want to praise you, Father, for the blessings of challenges and tough times. Thank you for your loving attention that carries me through, transforming me and makes me a better version of myself.  I also praise you for the glorious promise that through trouble, hardship, disappointment, or pain–“overwhelming victory is ours through Christ” (Romans 8:37, NLT)!

 

What crazy blessing have you experienced in the crucible of trouble, hardship, disappointment, or pain?  Please join the conversation below!

 

(1) His Imprint, My Expression, Kay Arthur, Harvest House, 1993, p. 135.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.imagesbuddy,com; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.izquotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.harvesttotable.com.)

 

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(a personalized psalm)

 

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“Trust in the Lord and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

–Psalm 37:3 NIV

I praise you, oh God, that you are trustworthy. Your motives are always pure, your guidance always wise, your actions always righteous. Everything you do in my life is for my good.

Now, Father, I want to do good for you. May I dedicate myself each day to fulfill the to-do list you’ve designed. Remind me that interruptions may be divine appointments, ordained by you to accomplish a specific purpose.

I praise you that I can “dwell in the land and live securely” (v. 3, HCSB). How comforting to know my dwelling place is in you (John 15:5), where I find:

  • Refuge (Psalm 46:1),
  • Good things (Psalm 65:4),
  • Rest (Psalm 91:1), and
  • Enjoyment of all your glorious attributes (Ephesians 3:17-19).

 

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Delight yourself in the Lord

And he will give you the desires of your heart.

–Psalm 37:4 NIV

 

At first glance it would appear this verse teaches that as long as I’m worshiping you, you’ll grant what I want. But that would discount your wisdom, compelling you to do only what’s good for me.

No, undergirding this verse is an important truth: the more I delight in you, the more I’ll want what you want. Your desires become my desires, as I’m influenced by your infinite wisdom.

I praise you, Father, that steadily over time you have molded my spirit to be more accepting of your delights. Jeremiah’s words are more readily becoming my prayer: “As for me, I am in your hands, do with me whatever you think is good and right” (26:14*).

I praise you, too, that when a particular delight of my heart does not come to pass, you ultimately cause it to melt away!

 

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Commit your way to the Lord;

Trust in him and he will do this.”

Psalm 37:5 NIV

 

I praise you, oh God, that you provide guidance in what I should do, wisdom for how to accomplish that plan, and strength to see it to completion. I can depend upon your enablement for success in the endeavors you have ordained.

How comforting to know:

  • This is your world (Psalm 24:1). That includes the little corner where I live and work and love. I can relax, knowing that Someone much wiser and stronger is in charge.
  • You’ve already planned out the events of my life in advance (Psalm 139:16). You don’t make decisions as you go along, nor do you leave everything to chance.
  • Your plan is good (Jeremiah 29:11). No matter what happens, good will come out of it.

With your goodness that desires my highest welfare, your wisdom to plan it, and your power to achieve, I. Lack. No. Good. Thing!**

All praise to you, my loving Heavenly Father!

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* These words of Jeremiah were not a prayer to God, but a response to the officials of Judah who wanted the prophet sentenced to death. However, when addressed to God, they do communicate heartfelt trust and submission to Him.

** Based on a quote from A. W. Tozer: “With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?”

 

(Art credit:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.holy-bible.org; http://www.indulgy.com.)

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Twenty-eight years ago today, I sat alone at our kitchen table in a quiet house.  It was the first day of school.  Each of our three children had been delivered to their classrooms for second, fifth, and eighth grades.

I hadn’t expected to be home alone that day; my plan had included my own class of elementary students.  For thirteen years I’d focused on raising our three, and had taken a hiatus from teaching.

Two years prior I’d returned to work part-time, and taken classes to update my teaching certificate.  Then came resume-writing and the application process.  I also started substitute teaching, in order to become known within the district.

But few positions were posted.  A candidate with no recent experience was probably shuffled to the bottom of the resume pile.  I did not receive one call for an interview.

Frustration and depression clouded my spirit.  Yes, the part-time job was still available (come October), but part-time pay was not going to cover college expenses for our three children.  It was time to grow the retirement nest egg, too.

That morning, I wrote the following in my journal (with some recent editing!):

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Dear God,

Today is the first day of school and I am without a teaching position.  Needless to say, I‘m frustrated, depressed, and confused.  Why did I put myself through such a hectic schedule last year, working part-time and going to school?  Why did I not receive even one call for an interview?  What am I doing wrong?  Am I supposed to be pursuing something else? 

These kinds of questions have plagued me for days.

Yet, Lord, you are in control, and you always work things out for my good (Romans 8:28). Intellectually I know that’s true, but emotionally I’m still struggling. 

Then last night, you led me to that article in Decision Magazine, written by the young woman who’d been ordained a minister, but had no church to pastor. 

She said, “I just don’t get it.  I told a group of friends, ‘God has given me a marvelous vision for my life, so much encouragement and training.  But now it’s as if he has put me on a shelf.  My talents are being wasted.’ ”

Months earlier someone had told her she’d have a long and illustrious career.  Articles were written about her achievements.  There were awards.

“But circumstances suddenly turned against me.  My search for a position went unrewarded.  I asked the Lord to intervene.  He was silent.”

The article included highlights from the story of Joseph.  He endured much greater tribulation than just waiting.  And though Joseph, too, must have had questions, he refused to quit believing.

The author expressed questions of her own:

“When God reveals his plans for us, aren’t the paths we take supposed to be smooth and sure?  Shouldn’t we go from Point A to Point B without a hassle?  Apparently not.”

A to B

Again, Joseph and countless others are our examples.  Yet I was beginning to think that  because no teaching position had opened up, my desire to return to the classroom was misguided, that somewhere I’d gone wrong. 

But this author says: “When we encounter seemingly insurmountable difficulties in striving to do God’s will, we may be certain that it is all part of a greater plan.”

And then she quoted Romans 8:28.  M-m-m.  The same verse you’ve been whispering to me.

In closing the author said, “The story of Joseph taught me the importance of putting my total trust in the Lord at all times and leaving it there, especially when the path ahead is covered by fog.

“Following Jesus is an adventure in living…At times we are confused by delays and detours.  We may think God is remote.  Yet the more intimate our relationship with the Master becomes, the more we will trust him for the business of our lives.”

Oh, Lord, thank you for speaking to me so directly through this timely article. 

“I WILL wait on you; I will (try to!) be courageous and allow you to strengthen my heart” (Psalm 27:14).

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The following Monday, August 31, I began a one-week substitute job at a nearby elementary school.  I’d subbed there before.

On September 11, the principal offered me a position; one of the third grade teachers was moving to another school.

I stood before my own class on September 15, breathless from the quick reversal of circumstances.

But my questions were never answered.  I don’t know if my resume was faulty.   I don’t know why no one called for an interview.  I don’t know why God didn’t open up a position sooner.

Here’s what I do know:

  • In that time of delay and disappointment, I experienced a small miracle.  Through that article I just happened to read, he provided the peace, hope, and comfort I needed.
  • God was perfecting my ability to trust in him—no matter what.
  • ·        He was also perfecting patience, humility, and submission.

Important lessons, right?

Note to self:  When Plan A does not unfold, it is likely a greater plan is being fulfilled.  Our Plan A is often circumstantial; God’s greater plan is most often spiritual.

Can I submit to that?

(Photo credits:  www.webmd.com; http://www.robertson.ms; http://www.tumblr.com.)

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Pretend you’re on an ocean liner that has embarked from New York City and is sailing to England.   You and several thousand other passengers enjoy your days at sea, free to choose from dozens of activities—games, shopping, shows, sports, crafts, and more. You can eat anytime you like, sleep whenever you feel drowsy, make friends among the other passengers, or remain solitary. In other words, you make many choices during the voyage, but all the while the ship is headed towards its predetermined destination.

A.W. Tozer gave us this illustration in his classic, The Knowledge of the Holy (Harper & Brothers, 1961), to help us understand God’s sovereignty: 1) Our all-powerful God has total authority in the universe, just as the shipping authorities exercise sovereignty over the course of a ship. 2) We have been given much freedom, within the confines of God’s sovereignty, to move about and make choices.

Now some folks take issue with God’s control. They want to direct the course of their life-ships.  I, for one, find great comfort in the numerous, reassuring scriptures about God’s sovereignty.

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For example, everything in heaven and earth belongs to Him. He is the glorious head over all, the ruler of all things (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). That includes us–those who know Jesus and belong to the family of God. As our Heavenly Father, he provides for our needs, guides us through decisions, bestows many blessings, and more. What encouraging truth! The Almighty God of the universe is in charge of our lives, as we submit to him. We don’t have to navigate alone.

The key, however, is submission. God is a gentleman and will not force himself upon us. He has chosen to limit his sovereignty, to allow man free choice.

Another reassuring truth: God is totally competent. We’ve all known inept leaders who could not fulfill their responsibilities. But our Ruler is supremely capable.  Nothing is too hard for him (Jeremiah 32:17).  As we focus on his complete sufficiency, our worries shrink in significance.

In addition, no plan of God’s can be thwarted (Job 42:2).   What God says, happens.

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His sovereign plan is efficient and goal-oriented. He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his perfect plan (Ephesians 1:11).

God’s sovereignty is also employed with infinite wisdom (Job 12:13).  No foolish decisions come from God’s throne!

And contrary to appearances, he does maintain over-arching rule on mankind (Jeremiah 32:27). That would include the barbaric Babylonians of Jeremiah’s day, who destroyed Jerusalem, murdered the nobles of Judah, and took thousands of Jewish captives to Babylon.  God’s over-arching rule also applies to the wicked forces creating havoc in our day.

Good people are often hurt in the process, and it breaks our hearts.   Every century has had its martyrs for the faith. And our questions of why God allows bad things to happen to good people don’t always get answered. We’re not privy to everything God knows or to all the reasons behind his decisions (Romans 11:33-36).

What we do know is this: Evil never wins in the end. Every evil empire of history that rose in prominence and power eventually fell in ruin. Our sovereign God knows what he is doing. He will have the last word.

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So when the squeaky wheels of worry, doubt, or fear begin to spin in your head, and you wonder, Is God in control?, apply the oil of gladness in who God is—our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, and yes, in-control God!

Take joy in the knowledge that “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

And rest in the affirmation that “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36, emphasis added).

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Sovereign Lord of the universe, we bow in worshipful wonder of your magnificence. Your greatness shatters all boundaries! We stand in awe of your vast power and infinite wisdom, always at work in the world.

“And when I cannot understand” [your plan or your ways], “help me just to stand” (Selwyn Hughes).

(Art & photo credits:  www.en.wikipedia.org; http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.spiritualinpsiration.tumblr.com.)

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(This is the last new post until July 3.  As most of you know, Steve is retiring from the pastorate, after serving forty years in Florida.  Mid-June we move to the Midwest, to be close to our sons.  And if our daughter and her family would just move east from Washington State, life would be near-perfect!

Packing and unpacking are time-consuming tasks, as you know, so I’ll put the blog on hold for a few weeks.

But please continue to visit!  I’ll re-blog some previous posts, and hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.)

 

TODAY’S POST

 

True or False:

 God will do the right thing at the right time.

–Max Lucado

 

We believe that’s true, right?  We can even find scripture to back up that statement:

“I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly” (Psalm 75:2).

Never in a million years would we say, “This statement is false. God can’t be trusted to do the right thing!”

But we do sometimes wonder why our ideas of the right thing don’t seem to match his idea.

And we do unabashedly wonder about his idea of right timing.

We also wonder why there’s not even a hint of progress toward that right thing we desire. We wonder why God is silent.

 

Wondering

 

But God’s silence is not like that of people.   He doesn’t give us the silent treatment in some petty game of payback. And it’s not a case of forgetfulness either.

More than likely God is working on other matters rather than that one we’re focused on– other matters such as perseverance, faith, and spiritual maturity. These character traits and others don’t grow so well if we’re always getting what we want when we want it.

We can rest assured there is purpose in the pause.

And just knowing that can ease our impatience.

Something else that’s important to know, too:

There’s really no such thing as silence with God, because we always have his Word, chock full of glorious promises and encouragement.  And it’s always available.  (I’m assuming you have an iPhone or computer–you’re reading this post; therefore you have access to a Bible–even if it’s online!)

One of my favorite promises is Isaiah 65:24.

 

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(“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.”)

And one more, also from Isaiah:

“I will accomplish all my purpose” (46:10b).

God is not only working in our behalf now, he foresaw our need and began working toward its fulfillment before we uttered the first prayer. He started arranging events and bringing together people and resources so that at just the right time the right thing will happen.

Notice the “I will” in each of those verses above. Isaiah did not record God’s good intentions. These are promises of the Almighty God of the universe, our always-truthful, always trustworthy Heavenly Father.

WHY DO I WONDER?!

 

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I praise you, Heavenly Father, for being reliable and trustworthy. I can’t imagine life without you as my foundation. Thank you for every promise in your Word that gives me support. Once again, I avail myself to your plan, so you can do the right thing at the right time—without the interference of my impatience or doubt!

 

(Art and photo credits:  www.kemingshen.com , http://www.brendaboen.blogspot.com.)

 

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