God, Where Are You??

DrRvrBdI’m troubled most when God is quiet. When living water seems to have dried up. Consider Psalm 77:7-9…

Will the Lord spurn forever, & never again be favorable? 8 Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?

When God is silent I get anxious. I start questioning… wondering and wandering… my mind tends toward discouragement. I identify with the uncertainties of what is written in the Scripture above. What about you?

Intellectually I know God is omnipresent. It’s the personal sensed favorable presence of God I/we need. We are like the little kid scared by thunder at night who crawls into bed with his mom and dad for safety. God’s “stuff” (Material blessings) mean nothing in comparison to His felt presence. Houses, land, money, and men’s recognition is crap compared to everything this world offers (Don’t get offended, Paul said it first in Phil 3:8. “Rubbish” is better translated “barnyard dung.”).

Therefore there are other Scriptures I go to which answer Psalm 77’s questions…

You who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Ps 56:8-11

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. 2 He only is my rock & my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Ps 62:1-2

You (God) who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

What I feel (God’s absence) is not reality (God is present). Sometimes He causes us to feel absence of His presence to long more for Him and be satisfied with His presence above all things.

Are You Content?

Given the last two days posts (Click & click)… consider…

Contentment is a state of absence from worry, fear, anxiety, and trouble. Contentment balances awareness and concern of potentially troubling events with an indomitable inner peace that is not bruised or dented by the rocks thrown by life.  A person who is content laughs at the troubles that come their way because their perspective on life is seated in heaven.  Contentment is a whole life matter and does not exclude any area of life.  Contentment be true for us in all except one area of life.

Contentment is a state of being… a perspective on life… an inner quality that does not come in a pill.  Contentment can’t be reduced to a mathematical formula.  Contentment isn’t a virus that can be caught from someone else.  Contentment is a gift.  Contentment is learned.  Contentment is the product of reflection.  Real, true, and lasting contentment is from God.

Contentment is a quiet and settled state of being that is convinced of God’s absolute sovereignty in the events of life.  Contentment is the assurance that God is in control and that whatever happens (Or is happening) is ultimately for His glory and the person’s ultimate good.  When a person is content to the degree I’m suggesting, the thing they desire most is God’s glory and therefore WHATEVER results in that… no matter what it is… brings them joy and thus they are content!

Are you contentWith what has happened to you for God’s glory?  With what is happening to you for God’s glory?  IS God’s glory most important to you… OVER your own personal desires, wishes, goals, and physical comfort?  Do you desire God to be honored in all things regardless of what they cost you in this life?  Do you PASSIONATELY DESIRE God’s will over, before, and in place of your own will?

When those things are THE desire of your heart, THEN you will be content… and wonder why you didn’t live, think, and believe that way sooner.

Count It ALL Joy?!

This is a followup to yesterday’s post (CLICK HERE).

“Count it ALL joy my brethren WHEN you encounter trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2).  That applies when… Your business is failing, your family is falling apart, your future is uncertain, people lie about you, you have a tough day… week… month… year, and when the circumstances of your life are completely out of control.  THAT is when (As Christians) we are to be joyful.

That is not Pollyanish… looking at the world through rose-colored glasses… living in a state of denial nor BLIND FAITH.  It is truth from personal experience.  By experience I know what it is like to not know if your child is going to live or die… I know what it’s like to have people doing everything they could to run you off… I know what it’s like to have family situations so dire you are at a complete loss as to what to do… I know what it is like to be uncertain how to pay your bills… I know what it is like to lay in bed, for days to weeks, looking at the ceiling… crying your eyes out… wondering why God seems to be ignoring your plea for deliverance.

And while all that is going on James 1:2 seems to be a slap in the face to all your human senses… present experience… and reality.  But I affirm from experience that James 1:2 IS TRUE AND IS POSSIBLE AND takes place by God’s grace.  Here’s a brief recounting of my journey to see how James 1:2 has been true in my life…

First… I reaffirmed that regardless of what circumstances present to me… I know God loves me.  He proved that on the cross.  John 3:16, 1 John 3:1.

Second… I reaffirmed that God is 100% sovereign over all things… all people… and all situations.  He IS God!  Isaiah 46:9-10.

Third… I reaffirmed that God is providential.  Always has been… always will be.  Daniel 4:35-36.

Fourth… I reaffirmed that “Just because I don’t see how something can be good doesn’t mean it isn’t good.”  Proverbs 3:5.

Fifth… I reaffirmed that “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21.

Sixth… I continued to pray according to Philippians 4:6-7.

Seventh… I continued to worship God because He alone is worthy of worship… (I spent a lot of time in personal worship).

Last… I reflected on these things: A) God always wills my ultimate good {Romans 8:28}; B) God controls every test {1 Cor 10:13}; C) Nothing… NOTHING… can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus {Ro 8:39}; D) God works everything according to His good, gracious, & loving will {Ephesians 1:11b}.

I determined (By God’s grace) that these truths will inform, control, and direct my thinking and how I process life… for God’s glory!  Oh… and I have to remind myself of these things often…

Jesus On When We’re Afraid

Nothing is as uncontrollable as a storm.  If we have time we can hunker down in a bunker (Tornado), run (Hurricane), or ride it out (Earthquake).  There is only one thing we can’t do… change the event.  Only once have I been literally in fear for my life in a storm… and I never want to be there again, mostly because I had no control.  Maybe you’ve been there either in reality or metaphorically (For most of us the latter is more likely and more often).  Consider Matthew 8:23-27…

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but (Jesus) was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

In the midst of a storm… when the Apostles were in fear that they would die… Jesus was asleep!  They woke Him and his first comment was… “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”  In essence he was saying… “This little breeze and mist isn’t anything to get all worked up over.”  Then by a word or two the storm ended immediately.  Get that… IMMEDIATELY.

Now… what is YOUR storm?  What are you afraid will “swamp your boat and take your life?”  What are you in that you are sure there is no deliverance from?  Whatever it is, hear the words of Jesus… “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”  Think with me about why as a Christian we need not fear regardless of the situation we find ourselves in…

Jesus has promised to NEVER leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b),

Jesus is praying for you (Romans 8:34),

The Holy Spirit is praying FOR you… according to God’s will (Romans 8:26-27),

There is NOTHING God cannot do (Jeremiah 32:27; Matthew 19:26),

God has promised not to allow anything into your life that you can’t handle (1 Corinthians 10:13),

God causes everything He allows into your life to be for your ultimate good (Romans 8:28),

Jesus has given Christians HIS peace that cannot be taken from them (John 14:27),

God grants His peace that guards your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7),

There is nothing that can destroy you (2 Corinthians 4:7-12),

God is in absolute… complete control… and He loves you (Isaiah 46:9-101 John 3:1),

God always gives only good things to His children (Psalm 84:11; Matthew 7:11),

God has granted promises so that we can live joyfully (2 Peter 1:3-5),

Even were your life to end… as a Christian… that is a good thing (Philippians 1:21-23).

So next time the storm is raging… when the boat of your life is about to be swamped… read the Scripture and believe God!

Quick Fix For Discouragement

Spend some time meditating on these passages of Scripture.  Can it really be this simple?

Matthew 6:33, Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  18 The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  28 We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 38 I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Philippians 4:6, In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:6, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Mark 6:31, And (Jesus) said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

It is only that simple when as a Christian you trust and believe God…

God’s Plans, Our Plans

These days I’m working on planning my day… week… month… and life by learning from my past.  Some things I’m beginning to grasp are:  1) It happens regardless of the plans I make.  2) There is no way I can plan for the unexpected.  3) The best I can do is to make decisions as each day unfolds.  4) Often the plans I make get modified so many times they don’t look anything like I first thought of them.  5) Virtually all the major things that have happened in my life were backed into {They weren’t on my life radar!}.

As a side note, it has taken me a long time and many experiences to come to these conclusions.  Experience is virtually our only and best teacher (At least that’s the way I see it).

For me that means: 1) De-stressing as unexpected things unfold because God is in control2) Refusing to worry over what I cannot control because I trust in the Lord with all my heart3) Being comfortable when the plans I’ve made go awry or are modified because God’s plans are much better than my plans4) Accepting that the unexpected is only such from my perspective.  In the eternal scheme they were planned by God.  5) Everything that happens in my life is ultimately good for me and is for God’s glory.

Let me explain #5 from the first paragraph.  God’s will has not so much been revealed to me as it has been done in my life.  Another way to put it is this… God’s will is not so much something He reveals as something He does.  For instance…

Being born wasn’t something I planned… it happened.

Where I lived the first 18 years of my life wasn’t planned by me… they happened.

I didn’t plan to meet the significant people in my life… they happened.

Going to Southern Mississippi after High School wasn’t planned… it happened.

Getting injured there and returning to Birmingham wasn’t planned… it happened.

Meeting the young lady who became my wife wasn’t planned… it happened.

Every church I’ve been called didn’t come about by my plan… they happened in ways I never could have brought about by my own power.

All the really significant life lessons I’ve learned happened… they weren’t planned by me to learn.

How do those play into my life now?  1) I do my best to do what I know I’ve been called to do.  2) I do my best to follow the road when it turns unexpectedly.  3) I try… though not always as successful as I’d like… to not worry when things don’t happen the way I prefer.  4) I work hard to accept things as they present themselves rather than get worked up.  5) I do my best to see God in the moment rather than in retrospect.  This means I tell myself as things happen… “God is in the middle of this.  Look close!”

Hope you find some encouragement in these thoughts.

Rule #3: NO WHINING!

I have a rule for myself and my family.  It’s #3 of several.  It is… NO WHINING!

Do you remember what happened a few months ago on August 5th?  That was the day a mine collapsed on some miners in Chile.  Since that day 33 men have been trapped underground.  2,047 feet below ground.  Thirty-three men… 2,047 feet below ground… for over 2 months!  Can you say claustrophobia boys and girls?  As this is being written (Friday 10/8/10), the men will most probably be freed tomorrow (Saturday, 10/9/10).  Click here

What have we complained or fussed about since August 5, 2010?  Whatever it is, I guarantee you any one of those men would gladly trade places with us… and so would their families.  Remember, we’re all blessed!  Did your toilet flush… light come on when you flipped the switch… car start when you turned the key?  Did you feel the warmth of the sun… breathe fresh air… talk on a phone… go home after work… sleep in a bed… (How far do you want me to go?).

Consider a few passages of Scripture…

Philippians 4:11 I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1 Timothy 6:8 If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Habakkukk 3:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.

We need to evaluate carefully what we HAVE to have in order to be content.  We need to consider seriously what we NEED in order to be joyful and worship God.  Well, according to Paul it is food and clothing and nothing else.  Wow!  Are you there?  I’m not… and want to be.  God help me…