Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Praises to the God of Heaven

How do you handle uncertain times? Some people run away to a cocoon and pretend nothing is happening. Other people prepare by stocking the shelves and ordering a generator. Others choose to turn to God for answers. In Daniel chapter two we find four year men headed for death. The king’s advisors failed him, so he ordered their death. Daniel, Hananiah, Mischael, and Azariah are among the condemned. Their response: to turn to God for help and then rest in the knowledge He is in control.

Read over this story this week, and marvel at their faith. Daniel quietly asks for time to find an answer for the king. Then a fervent prayer meeting takes place. And after the last amen, they all lie down and sleep. It amazes me the peace, to be able to sleep! Sleep is often illusive in stressful situations, but these four trusted God and so they rested. And as they rested, God sent Daniel a dream and its interpretation.

When Daniel wakes up and realizes he is saved, he breaks out in a beautiful praise to God. He extols God for changing the time and the seasons. He praises God for revealing deep and secret things. This is the God they place their faith in. This is the God you can put your faith in also.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Stand for God

At an early age James White determined to be financially independent. He wanted to choose his future, and be free to follow God’s calling. God’s calling was to be a preacher. The paycheck didn’t cover all his family’s needs, so he looked for a side job. Finding a wealthy farmer in need of help in the fields, he signed up. Now this wasn’t in the time where you climb into a large tractor and plowed through the fields. The tool for the job didn’t involve any kind of engine other than human strength and vigor. The tool was a long stick with a handle and a sharp blade. The scythe required focus and strength to wield properly without inflicting any damage on those around or the operator.

The other hired workers quickly learned that James was a preacher. They resented his presence. Putting their heads together, a plan hatched to make things difficult. Their goal, to make things so hard for James that he would quit. So they asked James to lead the pack as they mowed across the field. James agreed to lead and proceeded to pick up his scythe cutting a wide swath as he went. And with every swing of the scythe James was sending up a prayer to heaven for physical strength. The group quickly found they couldn’t keep up; they cut narrower and narrower rows. Finally, they admitted defeat and shortly confessed their plan to James.

Does this story inspire your memories to pull up the file on answered prayer? What story can you tell of where God answered your prayer to stand up for Him and witness? Spend time with God this week remembering where you chose to stand for God. Then spend time in thanksgiving for God’s strength that made that stand possible.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

You See Me…

In my devotional time I came to these words, “You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.” After reading them I took one of those holy pauses to digest what I read. God knows it all, completely, inside and outside. He knows all the actions I take in a day, whether those actions bring me closer to Him or propel me further away.

You can read these words too in Psalm 139. Read the whole Psalm and be amazed at all the details that God recognizes, even knowing all the days of our lives before even one came to be. At first take this may seem the stuff of nightmares, to think of a God who knows and follows every detail. But pause for a moment and realize God knows all this, and loves you completely. One commentator gives this call for reflection based on Psalm 139, “Sensing that God knows all this about you, what do you think would be His evaluation of your present life? Knowing that He knows all about you, yet loves tremendously, honestly face your present.”

Find time this week in your time with God to evaluate your life through God’s eyes. Is His love calling you to change? Is there something in your relationship to God that can improve? Is there a human relationship that needs your attention? Commit prayerfully in the presence of this loving God to grow in the area you identified in the previous exercise.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

God’s Hand in My History

Think back a few years into your history. Now look for God’s hand in your past. What difficult situations did God lead you to and then lead you through? Are there places where you felt like you labored in vain? In my life I can remember many instances where I poured my heart and soul into a project, only to see it end short of my goal. For all my work and energy the result could only be labeled a failure. If this sounds familiar to you too, then turn to Isaiah 49:4.

You will find these words: “But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all.” You and I are not the first to feel these feelings, or to lament the loss of a dream. Isaiah felt the same way, and he poured his life, energy and whole being into his calling. But do not stay in this place, keep reading and find hope. “Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

We will not always see the results of our labors in this world. Our job is not to find the results, but to know where those rewards are. Our reward is with God. Our job is to be true to our calling, to exercise our spiritual gifts consistently, and to trust Him with what the final outcome will be.