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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 8:28’

 

 

Ever had a sleepless night due to a relentless whirl of what-ifs, a churning jumble of distress and anxiety, a racing heart?

Worry will do that. No wonder we’ve been told worry is bad for us.  In fact, according to Charles Mayo (co-founder of the Mayo Clinic), worry causes adverse affects on the circulatory system, heart, glands, and nervous system.*

But what about concern? Is that different from worry? Is it OK to be concerned?

The answer is yes. Scripture gives much evidence that even our perfect Heavenly Father exhibits concern. He demonstrates:

  • Compassion on all he has made (Psalm 145:9).
  • Care for each of us (1 Peter 5:7).
  • Mindful attention (Hebrews 2:6).
  • Watchful protection (Jeremiah 31:10).
  • Careful planning for us (Psalm 40:5).

 

 

As God exemplifies, concern prompts beneficial action; worry, on the other hand, accomplishes nothing but harm.

Worry creates a thick fog of fear; concern invites God into our experience with all his wisdom, power, and comforting presence. He is, after all, the only One who can dispel fog, whether it’s water vapor in nature or worry on our minds.

Just the reminder our loving Father is right in the midst of the mess with us will do much to sweep away worry.  And “there is heaven in the depth of that word—Father!” (Charles Spurgeon, emphasis added).

Indeed. If we dig into the heavenly depths of our Father’s love we’ll see:

  • The support of his powerful right hand (Psalm 65:8).
  • The protection of his everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27).
  • The comfort of being carried close to his heart (Isaiah 40:10).

 

 

And that’s just for starters.

If we dig into what we know about him, we can affirm:

  • “Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it; therefore [we] can rest in perfect confidence in him” (Oswald Chambers).
  • The God who made us will equip us for whatever lies ahead—even if it’s unpleasant (Habakkuk 3:19).
  • Difficulties most often set the scene for his glory to be displayed (Romans 11:36).

 

 

Sometimes, though, the fog of worry shrouds even the strongest mental images and the most affirming truths. We’re forced to admit: trustful concern is not easy.

For most of us, it is a learned discipline that grows over time. Slowly we’re able to embrace the truth that all will be well because all is in God’s perfect and capable hands. Slowly we develop the habit of affirming God’s character and power, to develop a near worry-less state of contentment.

And we learn the value of gratitude amidst turmoil—as illogical as that may sound. The very act of thanking God releases our minds from negative focus. When we turn our attention to him, problems fade in significance and the fog is dispersed. That’s why Paul recommended, “Pray with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6).

 

 

And that’s how we turn worthless worry into productive concern.

 

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I thank you, Father, that NO situation is hopeless because you are the God of eternal hope. I can count on you because you are the God of universal sovereignty, complete sufficiency, and abundant goodness.

I thank you for your comforting presence, for your power at work (even though I can’t see it right now), and for your glorious promise that you always bring good from every situation. I praise you that, while we may sow in tears, there will come the day we reap with songs of joy. Hallelujah!

 

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; Romans 11:36; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Psalm 145:7;

Matthew 28:20; John 5:17; Romans 8:28; Psalm 126:5

 

*www.todayinsci.com.

 

(Art & photo credits:  http://www.flicker.com; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.flickr.com.)

 

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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.

 

And-without-faith-it-is-impossible-to-please-God

 

  • 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.

 

Pilgrims-Rock-god-is-sovereign-psalm47-7to8-300w-300x225

 

  • 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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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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Take a close look at the intricate design above. Did you notice the artist’s medium? Corks!

And look at what some clever soul did with some old tires.

Turn-Your-Trash-Into-Treasure-1

And how about this stemware rack? Quite the creative use for a discarded garden rake.

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All three of these projects are examples of upcycling—the process of converting useless products and waste materials into new products of higher quality or value than the original.

On a much grander scale, consider:   those of us who know Jesus have also been upcycled.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.

The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

– 2 Corinthians 5:17

 And what does that new, upcycled life include?

  • The opportunity for intimacy with Almighty God
  • A fresh perspective on life
  • Strength to face whatever might happen
  • A glorious certainty for the future
  • A deep sense of peace and joy that circumstances cannot destroy

And that’s just the beginning of the list.

Just as resourceful people are able to upcycle any number of materials, God can use everything in our lives:

  • Every relationship
  • Every situation
  • Every trial
  • Every hurt
  • Even every failure

No matter what we go through, God can upcycle the experience to create something worthwhile.  Good things like:  1) important life-lessons, 2) steps in his carefully orchestrated plan for our lives, and 3) a positive influence upon others.

Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

–Bill Wilson

(founder of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Paul expressed the same truth in scripture:

“God is able to orchestrate everything

to work toward something good and beautiful

when we love him and accept his invitation

to live according to his plan.”

–Romans 8:28, The Voice, italics added)

The inconsequential bits of our lives are never wasted in God’s economy either. For example:  He uses every good deed, every exercise of self-discipline, every effort to keep peace, to mold us into better people and to minister to others.

And then there is the trash of our lives—those circumstances and relationships we wish never had happened.  Even the trash is upcycled:

Wailing becomes dancing (Psalm 30:11)

Tears become joy (Psalm 126:5),

Ashes become beauty,

Despair becomes praise (Isaiah 61:3),

The crooked roads become straight (Luke 3:5),

Darkness becomes light (1 Peter 2:9).

Someone very clever expressed it this way:

rose-quote

Does that mean we sit and wait while God turns our tears of disillusionment to joy? The ashes of disappointment into something beautiful? The crooked road of bad choices into a straight, smooth path?

No, God honors us by allowing us to participate in the upcycling process.

“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord,

for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

— 1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT

Let’s strive to choose the next “best thing” before us, and let God upcycle the results!

(Photo credits:  www.winecorkdesigns.com; http://www.newscentral.exsees.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.mediawebapps.com.)

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“Be careful what you think,

because your thoughts run your life.”

–Proverbs 4:23, NCV

 

That would explain why worrisome thoughts can turn into paralyzing fear, pessimism into debilitating discouragement, and sadness into utter hopelessness.

No one wants to dwell in such misery.

But if a person is facing difficult circumstances, and she allows her thoughts to run amok on auto-pilot, she’s likely to slide downward into hyper negativity.  Climbing out is difficult.

“Snap out of it!” someone will say. Not very helpful.

“Look for the silver lining,” advises another. Easier said than done when tragedy strikes–and lingers.

“Spend some time in reflection.” That’s what one web site recommends, offering sixteen questions for a person to consider. Most of us don’t have time for that much introspection, nor the inclination, when we’re hurting.

So, how can we climb out of a miserable pit of despair?

By replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, especially scripture.

You see, our brains cannot focus on two things at once. Prove it to yourself by counting to ten and reciting John 3:16 at the same time. You’ll find you’re either counting or reciting, not both simultaneously.

We can apply the same strategy to negative thinking. At the first moment we realize our thoughts are headed in the wrong direction, we can confess it and ask God to help us renew our minds:

“Lord, I don’t want to think about this anymore.  I know it’s counter productive and does absolutely no good. Help me to refocus on what is noble and right, pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8).”                            

Then we start singing a favorite praise song, listing all the reasons we can trust God in this situation, or reciting an uplifting scripture.

For a start, the bulleted quotes below highlight some common threads of negative thinking.  Following each is a positive scripture as rebuttal:

  • “There is no way this situation is going to work out.”

 Oh? “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, italics added).

  • “I can’t stand another day of this.”

Oh, yes, I can stand. I can put on the full armor of God, so that in this day of trouble, I may be able to stand my ground” (Ephesians 6:13).

 Restoration will come. “Though you, [God], have made me see troubles…you will restore my life again…you will again bring me up” (Psalm 71:20).

  • “I am never going to succeed.”  

Not true.  God says [He] will accomplish all [his] purposes (Isaiah 46:10b, italics added).  What greater success could there be than to accomplish the purpose of Almighty God?

  • “I have no idea how to proceed. Maybe I should just quit. This is just too hard.”

 I can pray as the author of Hebrews did: “May the God of peace…equip me with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in me what is pleasing to him” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

  • “Sometimes I can’t seem to do anything right. How can God use me?” 

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

If the bulleted comments in bold print are our focus, our lives will surely head in a downward direction toward discouragement and hopelessness.

If, on the other hand, we focus on the promises and positive affirmations of scripture, we head in an upward direction toward wholeness, productivity, and joy.

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“He enables [us] to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19)–above the doubts and uncertainties.

Focus determines direction.

*     *     *     *     *     *      *     *     *     *

What scripture promise or affirmation lifts you up when circumstances try to pull you down?  Add your favorites in the Comments below!

(Photo credits:  www.facebook.com/wonwithoutaword; http://www.zazzle.com.)

 

 

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life-is-not-fair

 

“Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense.”

Haven’t we all said or at least heard comments such as these? We know it’s true: life is not fair. But knowing the fact and accepting it are two different responses.

That quote up above came from a guy who had it all—fame, wealth, and power. If anyone could claim that life had been fair to him, it was this guy. Yet in spite of the veneer of an enchanted life, he, too, experienced disappointment and confusion.

What was his name? King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Those sentiments of his at the beginning of the post come from Ecclesiastes 8:14, as interpreted in The Message.

No doubt you’ve experienced your share of disappointment and confusion, too. Perhaps you’re floundering right now, desperately in need of a handhold to keep you from falling.

Selwyn Hughes, that wise, Welsh pastor from a generation ago, recommends we fight uncertainty with certainties.

Certainties would include truths from scripture that apply to our situations. Truths that we can hold tightly in our hearts, such as:

  1. God is in control over the difficulties as well as the blessings. Yes, he could rescue us from trouble in an instant. But in his infinite, all-knowing wisdom, he has chosen not to. The reasons why may never be revealed. What we do know is this: God never acts or (withholds action) without purpose.

 Think of Joseph, a poster-child for unfair treatment. Yet, to the brothers who sold him into slavery, he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

Joseph-brothers-reunited

God brings good out of all things—even the problems, hurts, and pain (Romans 8:28).

  1. God has you in his mighty hand—mighty in power (Psalm 89:13), mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17), mighty in deed (Jeremiah 32:19).
  1. Out of his infinite might, God will provide strength to get us through. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
  1. Even as we plod through adversity, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25). That goodness includes his comforting presence, his provision, his blessings in the midst of difficulty, and more.

King Solomon also observed:

“The good life is reserved to the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence,…the evil person will not experience a “good” life. No matter how many days he lives, they’ll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn’t fear God” (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13, The Message).

 In other words, life with God is far superior to life without God–no matter what.

These certainties are just a few God has graciously provided in his Word that can be applied when uncertainty threatens. But if you’re like me, simply reading them doesn’t help for very long. “Out of sight, out of mind” happens frequently.

Perhaps we can make the most of God’s promises by:

  • Keeping a list, particularly those that apply specifically to our situations. As the list grows, so will our faith.
  • Copy especially meaningful promises on Post-Its and tuck them in unlikely places. When we spot them they’ll provide a pleasant surprise and uplift. Possibilities include: inside a cabinet door, on the coffee container, on the dashboard. Move them every week to keep the surprise (and uplift) fresh.
  • Memorize promises while doing mindless tasks like washing the dishes, waiting at red lights, taking a walk. Soon you’ll be able to pray the promises back to God—anytime, anyplace–to bolster your spirit and strengthen your faith.

 

 Rainbow

 

Let’s stand on the certainties of scripture and God’s promises because:

 

“To stand is more important than to understand”

(Selwyn Hughes, Every Day Light, Broadman and Holman, p. 215).

 

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Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the handholds in scripture, the truths and promises that help us keep our balance, so we can stand in the midst of adversity. Although I do not understand why troubles and heartache sometimes attack, I do understand that you are unequivocally reliable and you will see us through. I praise you, for you are the strength of my heart (Psalm 73:26b).

(Photo & art credits:  www.mygratitudelife.wordpress.com; http://www.ncbv.org; http://www.sjeciowa.org.)

   

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