Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Blessings in trouble.....abundant life!

Sometimes we get the notion that real blessing exists only if there are no problems in our lives. In fact, some people come to God and  think that salvation discounts  any future potential for trouble, only to be disappointed and disillusioned when trouble is on "every hand". Some depart from the faith when they realize that God has chosen not to open a door for them in a crisis, in the manner in which they had hoped. And still there are others who live in a topsy-turvy, “one-day chicken, next-day feathers” kind of mindset. Today....... I'm blessed, tomorrow..... I'm not blessed, on and on the vicious circle goes. So what DOES  the phrase "abundant life mean?"

  I believe the answer lies, in part,  in the fact that God mentioned His provision and the attack of the enemy of our souls in the same passage. It's as if there's a huge "HOWEVER" that links the two. God  is not saying that abundant life comes in place of our suffering...He's saying this gift  is IN SPITE OF persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and on and on and on and on.............

  So for the person who says, "Well, if my life isn't going to be blessed by God without trouble as a sanctified child of God, then what's the use in sacrificing to live this life at all?" Wellllllllll........., let me tell you that whether you're a  believer or not,  you're not going to escape troubles and trials.  But as a born again believers, we have been given prayer, and fasting, and fellowship,  and the Word to  ward off many (not all) disasters before they ever get a chance to come to fruition in our lives.

  Sowing and reaping good seed is one  way of avoiding some hardships.

Making life decisions based on God's wise Word also keeps us from many seasons of regret and heartbreak as well.

  For the remainder of the troubles we face in life, those things we can't altogether avoid, those rainy days that fall on the just and the unjust together,  comes the assurance Jesus gave in John 10:10. "The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." You can't afford to live without the One who assures a simultaneous outpouring of abundant, full life,  even in times when you're being pummeled by the enemy's strategy against you.

  How is it then that we can, at the same time, have joy while all hell is breaking loose around us? That , friend, is the miracle...NOT that we have no trouble to start with! Instead, the true miracle lies in the fact that we can be battling sickness, financial trouble, problems with our kids, aggravation on the job, empty bank accounts, troubled marriage, unsaved spouses; and at the same time have a calm, navigating peace that we can neither deny nor explain. Because the door doesn't open when I want it to, does not mean God has forsaken me.

  As Paul named off a laundry list of potential unpleasantries in life, he countered all these things with the huge weight of the most powerful force in the universe, the fixer of all broken hearts, the one thing that hell cannot stop, the secret supernatural force that God uses to draw all men to Himself, the  love of God.

 "Who shall ever separate us from Christ's love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:35-39 (AMP)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Just a musing as I study....................

The Hebrew word for mercy is rachuwm. It's meaning is compassion. It is a noun.The Hebrew root word for grace is chanan. It means to stoop down, or bend in kindness to an inferior. It is a verb.
What God's mercy saw, His grace stooped to save.
Mercy is what allowed us access to God. Grace is the mechanism God used to reach to us in our sinful state.
A holy, Spirit God saw us with mercy, and when He could find none to stand in the gap, His own right arm brought salvation. That is the grace of God in action.
Mercy saw us, devised a plan from the foundation of the world.
Grace was a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger.
Grace was The Christ carrying the cross up Galgotha's hill.
Grace was Christ crucified.
It is My hope of glory.
Mercy peeked behind the veil in the old testament as the high priest would bring the blood from the spotless lamb to sprinkle on the mercy seat, and mercy saw millions of Jews who waited for the glory of God to appear. When Jesus died on the cross, when grace stooped down in kindness to a lost world, mercy ran from behind the veil and was freely given to all who would recieve Him.
Rachuwn saw me, and chanan reached down to save me.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Trust The Delay

Picture this. It’s very early in the morning. My wife and I are sitting on a plane in New Orleans preparing to return home. We’d had a late night so we were exhausted. We settled into our seats and prepared for the 2 hour plane trip. Vicki pulls out her iPad & I pulled out mine and we got as comfortable as you can on an airplane. The plane began to taxi away from the gate and we were on our way. And that was a good thing. Because once we landed, kids, grands,  errands, meetings and chores awaited us.

The plane continued to taxi down the runway, but then it came to a complete stop. Initially we didn’t pay much attention to it because we’d started losing our ability to concentrate on the iPads…our eyes were slowly drifting shut. But after about 10 minutes we realized that we’d been stopped longer than normal.

Right about the time we realized we’d been sitting for a while, the pilot’s voice came over the intercom and informed us that there was a mechanical issue with the plane. We were told that we would have to sit on the runway until the mechanics came to check it out. He jokingly said “thank goodness we caught it while we were still on the ground. We’d hate to get into the high altitudes and expect the mechanics to come up there”.

Eventually the mechanics arrived to the plane, fixed the issue and we were off! We arrived slightly behind schedule, but safe. Thank God.

I  love how God teaches me life lessons in the midst of my ordinary, every-day situations. This was no different.

See, as we waited on the mechanics to check out the plane I was reminded that the same scenario often happens in our lives. We board the “plane” of our dreams, hopes, and goals. We make sure everything is on point…or at least we think everything is on point. We prepare for take-off. But often as we are about to start a new journey, go to the next level, or experience something different, something happens and there is a delay.

I don’t like delays. If I am supposed to leave at 8am, I want to leave at 8am. Not 8:15am, not 9am. I want to leave at 8am.

I don’t like delays.

But I have learned (well. Honestly? I am learning….) to trust the delay. And trusting the delay means having faith in God. Having faith that His plan and will for our lives is so much more strategic and purposeful than we could ever imagine or conjure up!

Unlike the pilot, I find no humor in “middle of the air mechanical problems”, but all jokes aside the pilot preached a mini-sermon to me in that moment.

“Thank goodness we caught it while we were still on the ground. We’d hate to get into the high altitudes and expect the mechanics to come up there”.

Did you catch the mini-sermon? The pilot was talking about a plane…but I heard it for my own life. One of my constant prayers is that my gifts don’t take me anywhere that my character can’t keep me.

As you and I continue to move into new dimensions in every area of our lives, we don’t want to go higher and then crash because our character couldn’t withstand the pressure.

Don’t get me wrong. We never get to a place where we’ve arrived and are free from the need to make character adjustments. But at each new level we must make sure that who we are can withstand the pressures that will inevitably come as we ascend.

So as much as I don’t like delays, I know that the delay may be God’s greatest gift to me.

Just like with the airplane on our trip, the adjustment that needs to be made might be minor. Think about it. We didn’t have to get off the plane and we didn’t have to turn around and go back. We simply had to stop for a minute, fix the problem and then we were able to keep going.

The delay may be the same for you. It doesn’t mean that you stop, walk away and give up on your dreams. It may simply mean that you need to allow your team (your spouse, family, counselor, pastor, etc) to help you fix the problem and then you will be on your way.

Ignoring the delay is dangerous.

Moving forward despite God’s whisper to wait…

Refusing to allow yourself to be surrounded by “mechanics” that can help you address the issue…

Placing your dreams and goals above the bigger picture…

Ignoring the delay is dangerous. So don’t do that. Don’t ignore the delay. Be still. Be quiet. Be open.

Have faith that if God has pushed pause then you should heed the warning and trust the delay.

 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." - Proverbs 16:9