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Posts Tagged ‘James 1:2-4’

Imagine eighty-year old Moses, tending sheep on a mountainside, just as he had for the previous 14,600 days (forty years)—give or take a few.   He had absolutely no reason to think this day would be different from the thousands before.

But it was.

 

Moses at the burning bush

 

This was the day he spotted the burning bush and God spoke to him:

“I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt, and I have heard them crying out because of the slave drivers. I know how much they’re suffering. I have come to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good land with plenty of room [for everyone]. It is a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:7-8, GWT).

According to Acts 7:6, God’s people had endured slavery for four hundred years. That’s 146,000 days—give or take a few. God saw their misery, heard them crying out, and was concerned about their suffering.

So why would God wait so long? Think of the generations who prayed for deliverance and the answer did not come.

Why?

They never knew. Even now, although Bible scholars have speculated, we have no definitive answer. God chose not to tell them/us.

But the experience of the ancient Israelites, as well as those of countless others through the centuries, prove:  even in the Christian life, questions go unanswered, uncertainty can become a constant companion, and doubts linger in the shadows.

 

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What’s to be done when the answers don’t come?

Actually, there are at least four categories of action to pursue:

1. Reaffirm what we know to be true. 

  • God has good reason to be silent or he wouldn’t do it. Whether he ever reveals the reason(s) is up to his discretion. But one reason is certain: If he answered every request immediately, we’d become very spoiled and never develop our faith. And faith is very important to him (Hebrews 11:6). Our trust in his always-perfect capabilities is to our benefit.

 

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  • Consider that at this very moment you are traveling 67,000 miles per hour. (And you thought you were sitting still!) The whole planet is orbiting the sun at that mind-boggling speed. Just as we forget we’re flying through space, so we sometimes forget that God is moving, always working on our behalf (Romans 8:28)—even when there’s no evidence of the fact. 
  • “His silence is the sign that he is bringing us into an even more wonderful understanding of himself” – Oswald Chambers.*  In the silence we seek him with more diligence.

2. Prayerfully analyze the possibilities why God may be silent: 

  • I have unconfessed sin in my life. 
  • He’s given me direction but I have yet to follow. He’s waiting for me to cooperate. 
  • I’m trying to work things out on my own, creating such a racket of busy-ness I can’t hear his gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12).

 

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  • He’s growing my faith (Isaiah 50:10) and building my character (James 1:2-4) to make me more useful for his purpose. Fulfilling his purpose will satisfy my soul also, on a level unknown to me now (Luke 6:38). 
  • He’s accomplishing a purpose only he knows about at present.

3. Implement these behaviors: 

  • Rely on scriptural fact, not emotions. God is loving, faithful, and present with us. He never overlooks a child, and will see us through whatever he deems best (Psalm 145:8, 13, 18, 20 and Psalm 23:4).
  • Take encouragement from Bible promises, even pray them back to God. But hold onto them with a light grasp because we are subject to God’s plan for fulfillment and his timetable. Good thing, too.  He is the all-wise One in total, proficient control of everything.

 

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  • Take time to be quiet and receptive. Praise God for what’s right in your life. Chances are, current blessings far outweigh pending requests. Our praise can begin with another encouragement from Oswald Chambers*: “If God has given us a silence,…he is bringing us into the great run of his purpose.”

_________________________

 

Even as I wait in the silence for your intervention, Lord God, I praise you for your sovereignty and affirm: you know the best way and the best time to fulfill your plan. I thank you for your strength that empowers me to persevere, and the assurance of ultimate victory in the end as I rely upon you.  

 

Isaiah 55:9, Philippians 4:11-13, Romans 8:35-36

 

Is there a scripture, quote, or thought you find helpful when the answers don’t come?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

*My Utmost for His Highest, Dodd, Mead, & Co., 1966, p. 285.

 

(Photo & art credits:  www.cgtruth.org; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.thekingjamesbible.us; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.pilgrimsrock.com.)

 

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In a list of meaningful but “minor impressions,” beloved columnist/author, Joe Bayly, wrote the following for Saturday, July 28, 1962:

“Rode the merry-go-round tonight with happy David and worried Nathan, while Mary Lou looked on and waved each time we passed. Timmy kept up with us, running, for three times around”(1).

 

merry-go-round

 

And then Joe included this familiar scripture:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17–NIV, emphasis added).

That means everything good in this world comes from God—even a delightful ride on a merry-go-round.

Sometimes, however, the goodness of God’s gifts isn’t immediately recognizable.

Scripture offers a number of examples, such as Paul’s thorn in the flesh. The exact nature of the problem was never revealed, but we do know it was chronic and debilitating. Who would call that a good and perfect gift?

Paul did.

“At first I didn’t think of it as a gift,” he said.

Then God told him, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need.”

 

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“Once I heard that,” Paul explained, “I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.” (vs. 7-10, The Message).

I, for one, have never had to deal with a long-term thorn in the flesh. But difficult, shorter-term circumstances have turned into tremendous blessings. For example:

  • A particularly exhausting week of teaching, family responsibilities, and other pressing matters was followed up by a weekend music retreat at church. How could I muster the energy to attend and complete a long must-do-by-Monday list? While visions of PJs and pillows danced in my head, I dragged myself to church. But through the funny and inspiring retreat leader, the uplifting music, and the invigorating camaraderie of music ministry friends, I left Friday evening highly rejuvenated, looking forward to more blessings come Saturday and Sunday.
  • Our son was not accepted into his first choices of graduate schools, and we wondered what God was doing. Was Eric proceeding in the right direction? Those trying days, however, turned into lessons of trust and spiritual maturity for him, which he humbly took to heart. As for the university that did accept him? That’s where Eric met his wife.
  • Into every life a few challenging people must fall, right? And with them often come discouragement, stress, and hurt. Where’s the blessing in all that? For starters, God uses such relationships to train us in turning our thoughts to the positive (Philippians 4:8), so we can experience renewal and peace. We also develop perseverance and maturity (James 1:2-4)—traits that lead to a calm and steady life anchored on Jesus.

God gives only good and perfect gifts. Sometimes they come as small but delightful surprises—like a perfect merry-go-round moment.

Sometimes they come wrapped inside trying circumstances.

But those are some of his best gifts–when negative is transformed into positive.

Because that’s downright miraculous.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Have you ever received a good and perfect gift out of difficult circumstances?  Tell us your story in the comments below.

 

(1) Joe Bayly, Out of My Mind:  The Best of Joe Bayly, Zondervan, 1993, p. 41.

 

(Photo credit:  www.elcivics.com, http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

 

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“It is good to wait quietly,” Jeremiah said (Lamentations 3:26a).

At the risk of sounding impudent, “What’s good about it?”

Waiting can make us feel anxious and stressed.  If we’re waiting for a prayer to be answered or a scriptural promise to be fulfilled, we can become doubtful, discouraged, and despondent.  Not good.

Yet the act of waiting seems important to God.  Numerous times in the Bible we see people of faith who had to endure Wait Time:

  • Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the birth of Isaac.
  • Jacob waited 14 years to take Rachel as his bride.
  • Joseph waited 13 years, first as a slave, then as a prisoner, before being rescued and elevated by God to second-in-command over Egypt.
  • The Israelites waited through 400 years of slavery in Egypt before God’s miraculous intervention.

  • Caleb waited 45 years to inherit his portion of the Promised Land.
  • David waited at least 15 years to become king of Israel, after his anointing by Samuel.
  • Simeon, Anna, and many other Jews waited for their Messiah.

God’s delays must serve a purpose.  And a diligent search through scripture gives us answers to:  What good can come from waiting?

  • Times of waiting strengthen our trust in God and our resolve (Psalm 27:14).  If every day was problem-free and blissful, surely our faith would remain shallow.
  • We grow in our relationship with God while resting in his sovereignty and reliability (Psalm 62:5-8).  The Almighty of the universe becomes our closest confidant.  Intimacy with him deepens as we turn to him for comfort, encouragement, strength, and more.

  • Spiritual maturity develops (James 1:2-4).  Waiting is a challenge all by itself, but can also be accompanied by worry, pain, and sacrifice.  The test of waiting, however, develops our patience and perseverance and gives us opportunity to grow in character.  None of these benefits would blossom within us if God provided for every whim, and rescued from every trial.
  • We learn to take joy in the blessings we already have.  Paul wrote, “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) to a church experiencing persecution.  They were undoubtedly praying and waiting for relief.  But Paul knew that focusing on what Christ had already done for the believers, and the benefits they already enjoyed, would help offset their anxiety and frustration.  The same is true for us.
  • Others see our patience and trust while we wait (Psalm 40:1-4).  Then, when God answers our cries, others take note of his provision, and their faith is encouraged.

It seems we’re always waiting for something; it’s only the intensity of emotion attached to the waiting that tends to vary.  When that intensity begins to grow, perhaps it would help to say, “I’m waiting with great anticipation!

 

 

There can be sweet delight in anticipation.  For example, as the Christmas holidays approach, I anticipate the glorious homecoming of family members.  I relish the imaginings of long conversations at the candle-lit dinner table, the hugs and laughter, and the gathering around the Christmas tree for family worship and gift-giving.

I need to apply that joy of anticipation to waiting on God.  I can relish the fact that his plan – including the Wait Time — always includes positive aspects.  I can reaffirm that God is always on time – never late, never early.  I can generate excitement in my spirit by musing on God’s promises and looking forward to the creative, miraculous ways he will fulfill those promises.  With an attitude of anticipation, waiting shouldn’t be nearly so uncomfortable.

(You have my permission to remind me of that, should impatience or frustration start to manifest themselves!)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for the Wait Times in my life.  Thank you for holding me back, so trust, intimacy, gratitude, patience, and spiritual maturity have a chance to grow.  Help me to embrace the Wait Times as opportunities to discover more of who you are, more of the priceless treasures hidden in your Word, and more of who I can be when I am rooted and built up in you (Colossians 2:7)—especially through times of waiting.

(Art & photo credits:  www.bible-stories-library.com , http://www.moseseditor.blogspot.com . http://www.photosbyravi.com , http://www.pinterest.com.

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