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Posts Tagged ‘Deuteronomy 32:4’

 

Expect to find trouble in this day.

At the same time, trust that [God’s] way is perfect,

even in the midst of such messy imperfection.

—Sarah Young (1)

 

Wait a minute. Trouble and perfection sound like opposites to me. Trouble is pain; perfection is bliss. How can those two concepts possibly coexist in our experience?

Sarah didn’t answer my question, so I headed to scripture to find out how God’s way could possibly be perfect for us in the midst of trouble.

My first stop occurred in Deuteronomy 32:4. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

 

 

And if I virtually click on a few words of that verse, the following truths reveal themselves:

  • God my Rock is utterly reliable and unshakably trustworthy
  • All of his works perfectly execute all of his plans
  • His ways reflect right judgments and highest wisdom
  • God is devoted to his children and faithful to his Word
  • All his actions are founded on absolute justice and supreme equity

But when trouble enters our lives, our Rock foundation can feel unreliable and untrustworthy. We might question the perfection of his plans, the wisdom of his ways, and the trustworthiness of his promises.

 

 

Then more than ever we must affirm: “Our inability to discern why bad things sometimes happen to us does not disprove God’s benevolence, it merely exposes our ignorance” (2).

Our finite minds cannot understand the all-wise, far-reaching, untraceable workings of a perfectly blameless and righteous God (3).

 

 

So the choice becomes ours. Will we: A) give in to worry, defeatism, and frustration, or B) seek to displace those emotions with scriptural truth and perhaps discover a better way to live?

I prefer Plan B!  I’m guessing you do too.  And a profitable place to begin is in the book of Psalms. We can collect numerous statements of God’s perfections at work on our behalf, even as we navigate through trouble.

For example, our Heavenly Father:

 

 

  • Watches over us (1:6). He knows what’s happening.
  • Gives us refuge (2:12)—not from trouble, but in the trouble.
  • Sustains us (3:5) with hope.
  • Hears us when we call to him (4:3), and is already working to bring beauty out of the ashes of adversity.

 

 

  • Fills our hearts with great joy (4:7)—despite the circumstances.
  • Encourages us (10:17) with his Word.
  • Turns our darkness into light (18:28), as he brings bright blessings out of dismal situations.
  • Arms us with strength (18:32) to endure.

 

 

  • Makes our ways perfect (18:32) as he gives us everything we need.
  • Guides us along right paths (23:3) toward maturity, serenity, and fulfillment.
  • Infuses us with peace (29:11) as we remember all things are possible with God.
  • Shows his wonderful love to us (31:21). And as we celebrate each day the manifestations of that love, our trust and contentment grow (4).

 

 

There you have it—a perfect dozen promises for troublesome times, gleaned from the first thirty-one chapters of just one biblical book. Many more are tucked within the pages of our Bibles, waiting to be discovered and embraced.

But worry, confusion, and discouragement don’t easily give up front-and-center attention in our minds. We must continually replace such thoughts with statements of faith, reminding ourselves: “The God who made us can equip us for the road ahead, even if it is an unpleasant road” (5).

 

 

After all, he’s in the driver’s seat, he has an impeccable driving record, and he deeply desires to accompany us toward our destination in heaven—to perfectly protect us, counsel us, and guide us safely all the way home–even through trouble.

 

P.S.  An update on my husband, Steve:  Many of you know he is fighting liver cancer right now.  Next week he will undergo another chemo treatment and radiation.  Our prayer is these procedures will eradicate the last tumor and no more will develop before he receives a transplant, perhaps early winter.  Thank you again for your love, support, encouragement, and prayer.  We are cocooned in God’s peace!

 

Notes:

(1) Jesus Calling, Thomas Nelson, 2004 p. 160.

(2) Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler, Who Made God? and Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith, Zondervan, 2003, p. 46.

(3) Romans 11:33-36.

(4) The following twelve scriptures provide further support: Psalm 139:1-6; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Romans 15:13; Isaiah 61:3; Psalm 94:19; Psalm 119:50; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:13; 2 Peter 1:3-4; James 1:2-4; Luke 1:37; Philippians 4:4, 12.

(5) Karol Ladd, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive, Howard Books, 2009, p. 47.

 

Photo credits:  http://www.ymi.today; http://www.pexels.com; http://www.dailyverses.net’ http://www.canva.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.flickr (Chris Bartnik); http://www.geograph.org.uk.

 

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After running a few errands last Saturday, Steve and I stopped at Panera for soup, salad, and sandwich.

We’d been seated for a while when Steve said, “A few tables behind you are two young men, and the one facing this way is wearing a T-shirt that says, ASK ME FOR PRAYER. Great big block letters too. ”

“Interesting. ‘Haven’t seen that one before,” I commented.

“Do you suppose he means it?”

“It’s a bold statement; I’ll bet he does.”

When we’d finished our lunch, I headed to the cold drinks bar to refresh my tea; Steve headed to the table of the young man in the T-shirt.

(We never did exchange names, so I’ll call him Paul, because I can see the Apostle Paul wearing just such a shirt, if it were available in his day.)

By the time I reached their table, Steve had discovered Paul did indeed mean what was blazoned on his chest.

“I’d appreciate it if you’d put me on your prayer list,” Steve told him. “I’m facing some serious health problems right now.”

But Paul did not assure us that he would pray. Instead he said, “Let’s pray for you right now!”

He and his friend immediately stood up, laid their hands on Steve, and Paul prayed for him right in the middle of Panera—and very articulately.

 

 

With conviction he praised God for His power to heal every kind of disease and sickness. He thanked God for his compassion on those who suffer, and prayed for the Spirit to move in Steve’s body and restore him to health. Paul also prayed against the spiritual forces of evil that would try to attack–and all in the powerful name of Jesus.

 

 

We spoke for a few moments more, first thanking them for hitting the pause button on their lunch to minister to us. Steve told them he’d been a pastor for forty years; Paul said he was from Tennessee, just passing through Cincinnati.

On the way to our car Steve said, “That was the most genuine, thorough healing prayer I’ve heard in a long time.”

And it undoubtedly came from a righteous man. In just those few moments of contact we saw passion, sincerity, obedience to God, humility, and grace.

You might remember what God promised about the prayers of such a person:

 

 

I found myself wishing we’d asked Paul for his business card. Wouldn’t it be fun, perhaps a year from now or so, to share with Paul how God had answered every part of his prayer on behalf of Steve.

Then, I remembered.  Eventually Paul will know, because:

  • God knows everything (Isaiah 40:13-14).
  • And since God and his Son are One (John 1:18), Jesus knows everything.
  • And when Jesus returns, we’ll be like him (1 John 3:2), and then we will know everything too.

 

 

So, one day, “Paul” will realize the outcome of his prayer for that preacher named Steve, while he just happened to be in an out-of-state Panera restaurant, wearing his ASK-ME-TO-PRAY-FOR-YOU T-shirt.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

We praise you, O God, for your excellent deeds–like engineering delightful, specially designed events.  What God is there in heaven or on earth who can do such marvelous and mighty works you do?  We also praise you for your acts of power–like healing, because you are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.

(Deuteronomy 3:24; Psalm 77:14)

 

 

(Art & photo credits:  http://www.flicker.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.canva.com (2); http://www.maxpixel.net.)

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Have you ever heard statements like these?

  • “Oh, yes.  God wants me to be happy. He’s promised to give me the desires of my heart.”
  • “If you have enough faith, anything you ask of God can be yours.”
  • “God will take care of me. I don’t need to budget or plan ahead.”
  • “I can’t help it if I’m moody; that’s the way God made me. He understands.”

Any person who holds such beliefs can point to a verse or two in scripture, proving their points.

The problem is, the Bible was not written in brief, stand-alone statements. Bible truths are based on the context of the whole. Historical and literary understanding are also important.

Another problem? We wish for God to conduct himself in a certain way.  We even find scriptures that seem to back up our desires. But the truth is, we must know God as he is.

If we don’t, we’re living in confusion.

“The sooner we accept God as he is, and do not imagine him as we would like him to be, the sooner we will move from the path of confusion to confidence” (Selwyn Hughes, 1928-2006, Welsh pastor and author).

However, so much of God is beyond our understanding.

 

ecclesiastes11_5

 

“Just as [we’ll] never understand

the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman,

so [we’ll] never understand

the mystery at work in all that God does.”

Ecclesiastes 11:5, The Message.

Our finite brains cannot fully comprehend our infinite God. But that shouldn’t stop us from learning and experiencing all we can.

Learning comes from the Bible. In its pages we find a glorious treasure trove of wisdom, encouragement, and guidance.

Experience comes through exercising our faith.

“If we begin to worship and come to God again and again by meditating, by reading, by prayer, and by obedience, little by little God becomes known to us through experience” (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, twelfth century monk).

It is impossible to fully explain this life of faith, just as you can’t fully explain what it’s like falling in love, getting married, or becoming a parent. Words fail to describe such beautiful and strong emotions.

We had to trust those who told us:

  • “You’ll know you’re in love when it happens to you.”
  • “Your wedding day will be the best day of your life to that point.”
  • “Perhaps the only ‘high’ better than falling in love or getting married is holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time.”

 

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Similarly, we have to trust what God tells us through his spokesmen in the Bible. For example:

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect,

and all his ways are just.

A faithful God who does no wrong,

upright and just is he.”

Deuteronomy 32:4

You might want to read that third line again. Our God is faithful—reliable, loyal, and completely trustworthy. HE. DOES. NO. WRONG.  Now that’s Someone in whom we can place our confidence!

Here is another example of scripture-truth about him:

 

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 “Righteousness and justice

are the foundation of [God’s] throne;

love and faithfulness go before [him].”

Psalm 89:14

Those four characteristics—right-doing, justice, love, and faithfulness—are the bedrock of who our God is. Everything he does flows from those attributes, including difficult circumstances and painful events that make no sense to us.

“Our inability to discern why bad things sometimes happen to us does not disprove God’s benevolence; it merely exposes our ignorance” (Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler, Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith, p. 46).

Someday we will understand why such events occur. For now we must trust.

But our trust is not blind. We can be confident in our God because:

“True faith rests in the character of God” (A.W. Tozer).

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.whatmykidsread.com; http://www.photobucket.com; http://www.huffingtonpost.com, http://www.pinterest.com.)

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Wise Man - Foolish Man House

You probably remember the story.

A foolish man built his house on sand; a wise man built his home on rock.  When a storm came, the house built on sand fell with a great crash.  But the wise man’s house stood firm (Matthew 7:24-27).

With this parable Jesus offers visual imagery for choosing man’s way to live or God’s way:

1) You can choose to build your life on getting ahead and having a good time, but in the end you will have nothing.

Or,

2) You can choose to build your life on faith in Jesus, and in the end you will receive great gain–a Rock of stability to depend on now, and perfect bliss in heaven for eternity.

Jesus is:

  • Reliable.  “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
  • Unchanging.  “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
  • Protective.  “In the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling..and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

But I’m thinking the story about houses built on sand and rock could be applied to our thought lives, too.

For example, if we allow our minds to focus on the shifting sands of circumstance,  we sink into negativity, worry, and fear.

If we focus on a firm foundation of scriptural absolutes, a sense of tranquility and strength pervades our spirits.

What are those absolutes?  The Bible teaches many, including the following:

God loves us — so much that he sent his only Son to die in our place.  Jesus took the punishment for our sins that we deserve (John 3:16).  Now, I’ve heard that statement thousands of times.  Perhaps you have, too.  But we mustn’t allow familiarity to reduce this truth to banality. His love for us is everlasting.   Deep.   Caring.   Forgiving.   Full of grace.  Let’s bask in the wonder of his love!

God has a plan for each of our lives, and it’s a good plan (Jeremiah 29:11).  Notice God doesn’t promise a pleasurable plan.  God loves us too much to allow addiction to fun.  With his goodness comes discipline, so that we become mature. In the final analysis, immature people are not the most content anyway.  They are self-centered and tend to whine and complain.  I don’t want to be that kind of person, and I’ll bet you don’t either.  So let’s accept the absolute goodness of God’s plan.

God will equip and empower us for his plan (Isaiah 41:10).  He’s the one who formed mountains, engineered ecosystems, and filled infinite space with countless stars.  This same God lives within us and works through us, fostering resolve, strength, and perseverance.  Let’s turn to him moment by moment to avail ourselves of his power.

And as we affirm such truths, we are reinforcing our foundation upon the Rock. Stone upon stone.  Solid, firm, and strong.  When the storms come– economic setbacks, health problems, emotional hurts–we will not collapse into a heap.

With David we will be able to exult in God’s provision:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand…Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust” (Psalm 40:1-2, 4b).

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What scriptural absolutes are part of your foundation?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

( art credit:  www.intheleafytreetopsthebirssing.blogspot.com)

 

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