Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beautiful In His Time

"The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride."
Ecclesiastes 7:8

When we walk with Lord the end of our lives can be filled with richness, blessing and fulfillment.  God’s blessing can outweigh any heartache or pain we have experienced.  God is always faithful to His promises if we are willing to wait on His fulfillment.  Impatience often leads to pain, but if we are willing to wait on God, He makes “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:10).

Sometimes we are unwilling to wait on God to make things beautiful.  We may look at our present circumstances and question whether things can ever really change.  We may give up on what could someday bring us great fulfillment.  For example, if your marriage is experiencing hard times, perhaps even a betrayal, you may think that life can never be good with your spouse.  Yet, if you choose to forgive and choose to love, God can bring beauty from the ashes.  He can restore the years the enemy has stolen.

I often think of Joseph and how hard it must have been on him to be betrayed by his family and sold as a slave.  He remained faithful in temptation, yet ended up in a dark, damp dungeon cell.  Perhaps he stared at that cell wall and wondered if his life could ever be good again.  Yet, despite his pain, He remained faithful to God.  He endured.  In the process, God prepared Him for the throne.  His day came.  He was able to say, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” and “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:51). 

Isaiah 40:1-2 says,

“Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”

God gave Joseph two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.  I believe that number is symbolic.  As I see it, Joseph experienced two major betrayals in his life.  He was first betrayed by his family and sold into slavery.  And then, even though a man of integrity, he was betrayed by his master and condemned to the dungeon.  But God lavished on him a double blessing for all of his pain.  God will be a debtor to no person.  While Joseph was suffering, He was storing up interest in his account with God.  When His promise was fulfilled, He received a double portion of blessing, an outpouring of God! 

You may look at your present circumstances and wonder if you can ever be blessed.  You may wonder if things can ever be good again.  I’m here to tell you if you will persist in the Lord, He will bring you into a place of abundant blessing.  He will make everything in your life beautiful in its time.  As the words of the Tobymac song say, "I know your heart been broke again.  I know your prayers ain't been answered yet.  I know you're feeling like you got nothing left.  Well, lift your head, it ain't over yet, ain't over yet, so Move, keep walkin'.  Soldier keep movin' on."  My friend, keep walking!


Thursday, January 5, 2017

An Elevated Perspective

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 
-II Corinthians 3:18

The state tree of Michigan, my home state, is the white pine.  Though not the tallest tree in the world, it is a tall tree.  If I were hiking through the forest and needed an elevated perspective, certainly the top of a tall white pine would provide that, if I could get there.  Likewise, when we walk through life’s trials, sometimes we need an elevated perspective.  We need to be able to rise above the difficulties we see around us, and get a higher view.  We need to see what God sees.

We may pray for problems to go away or for circumstances to change, but God may have a greater purpose than simply fixing the problem.  When circumstances test our faith, we may question God’s faithfulness.  We may get frustrated or angry with the process.  We may get bogged down with discouragement.  Often we see things from our limited perspective.  But God has an elevated perspective to offer us, if we will humble ourselves and seek Him.  In Him we can obtain “the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16).

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  What is God’s purpose?  Certainly God’s purpose is to save people.  Jesus said, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  But once we have come to Christ, God’s purpose is to make us like Jesus.  He wants to transform our lives, from glory to glory, healing us, restoring us, and perfecting us into His likeness.

Romans 8:29 says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…”  God often uses life’s trials to form within us the nature and character of Christ.  When Christ emerges from our pain, God is glorified.  In our trials, what we need to do is draw near to Christ in faith.  Rather than becoming bitter, we need to allow Him to change us from the inside.  The temptation is often to allow bitterness and disappointment to settle in our hearts.  But when we begin to allow Christ be formed in us, the work of transformation has begun and victory is near.  

God changes us from glory to glory.  It’s a process, a continual, ongoing process.  We are ever in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus.  I think God is less concerned with how far we’ve come, and more concerned that we are making progress.  We are growing, little by little every day.  Sometimes we are ourselves unaware of our own growth.  You may in fact be growing much more than you realize.  But right now, because you're in the midst of the difficulty, you just can't see it.  You may feel like a failure, but God is watching you, and He is saying, "I'm so proud of you."

If you know you're not where you should be, that's okay.  Maybe right now is a good time to stop and take inventory.  Are you becoming more loving or more bitter?  Are you becoming more cynical or more hopeful?  Take a look at your heart.  Once you have taken stock of where you're at, give yourself some grace.  We “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).  If necessary, re-commit yourself today to seeking the Lord and getting in His Word.  Allow Him to provide you with the perspective you need.  He will lead us into greater dimensions of His Spirit, greater depths of healing, greater levels of intimacy with Him, and to greater heights of victory.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Before

Before the world was created, God loved you.  Before you were born, you existed in the mind of God.  And before you ever sinned, God had already made provision for your redemption. 

In the beginning, before we were created, God provided a wonderful place for us.  It was a perfect paradise, free from sin, evil, disease, pain, heartache, and death.  But God, before we sinned, knowing that we would sin, provided a way for our redemption.

Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).  We have been redeemed with “the precious blood of Christ… a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:19).  Jesus, the Lamb, was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (I Peter 1:20).  Indeed, it is a mystery, but a glorious mystery.  All we have to do is believe!

Broadly speaking, there are three things that we struggle with in life:  1) sin - our own and the sins of others; 2) the attack of the enemy; and 3) the cares of this life.  All of these affect us in any number of negative ways.  Yet, before we encountered any of these, God provided a way of redemption.  He is able to redeem every sin, every attack and every burden. 

You may be experiencing pain in life because of your own sins.  The good news is that Jesus wants to redeem every mistake that you have made.  You may be experiencing struggles because of the way others have treated you.  The good news is that before you were ever mistreated, God provided for your healing.  Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”  Through His Word, God has provided a pathway for your healing.  With persistent faith, you can overcome!

You may be under attack from the enemy.  The good news, God has already provided victory for you.  Before the enemy attacked you, God provided a way for you to walk victorious.  By taking up the weapons of His Word, prayer, worship, faith and the authority God has given you, you can and will claim victory.   

You may be struggling right now with the cares of life.  Those cares want to suck you in and overwhelm you with worry and fear.  Yet, before the stress of life ever happened, God provided a way for you to walk in peace.  Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  All you have to do is believe!       

Often our problem is simply that we don't take the time to turn to God in our struggles.  We try to tackle life on our own.  But if we will each stop and spend some time with God, in His presence, and engage in the battle by faith, we can have all that God has provided for us.  

God loves you.  His love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).  No matter how much you have sinned and no matter how overwhelmed or embattled you feel, God has already provided a way for you to be free, at peace, and victorious.  Believe!