Pictures of Faith And Triumph
It is only a faithful person who truly believes that God sovereignly controls his circumstances. We take our circumstances for granted, saying God is in control, but not really believing it. We act as if the things that happen were completely controlled by people. To be faithful in every circumstance means that we have only one loyalty, or object of our faith— the Lord Jesus Christ. God may cause our circumstances to suddenly fall apart, which may bring the realization of our unfaithfulness to Him for not recognizing that He had ordained the situation. We never saw what He was trying to accomplish, and that exact event will never be repeated in our life. This is where the test of our faithfulness comes. If we will just learn to worship God even during the difficult circumstances, He will change them for the better very quickly if He so chooses.
Being faithful to Jesus Christ is the most difficult thing we try to do today. We will be faithful to our work, to serving others, or to anything else; just don’t ask us to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Many Christians become very impatient when we talk about faithfulness to Jesus. Our Lord is dethroned more deliberately by Christian workers than by the world. We treat God as if He were a machine designed only to bless us, and we think of Jesus as just another one of the workers.
The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son.
|DECEMBER 18, 2014From: Crosswalk
I’m Worried About My Child’s Future
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
Have you ever felt pressured to ensure your child’s success in school because you thought it meant success in life?
A couple of years ago I overheard my daughter Hope telling a friend she was glad I didn’t get all worked up over grades. Not trying to be nosey but totally wanting to be nosey, I kept listening.
She explained that she and her siblings were expected to do their best, but in the end, as long as they worked hard, my husband Art and I were okay with whatever grade they received.
For the most part, that’s right.
This hasn’t always been the case. When Hope started kindergarten, I felt compelled to help her succeed. I felt enormous pressure because I believed success in school meant success in life, and I wanted to set my child up for success.
She was a bright and articulate child. But all through kindergarten, she couldn’t read.
Then came first grade. All of the other kids in her class were reading with ease. Not my daughter. I panicked. I had her tested. I worried constantly that I must be doing something wrong as her mother.
In the end, it was a readiness issue. When she was ready, she starting reading.
Then along came my next child, who was reading at 4 years old. Finally I’d done something right, I reasoned.
But then child number three came along, and she was my slowest reader yet.
Through all of this, God started to untangle the misperception that success in school determines success in life, and as a parent, it is up to me to push, plead, demand and determine my child’s future.
Slowly, I realized God has a plan for each of my kids. As long as I’m depending on the Lord to guide me as a parent, nothing I do or don’t do will mess up their futures. I’m reassured of this with our key verse, Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
As their parent, it’s my job to guide them, but worldly success shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. My guiding should focus on leading them into a relationship with God, where He’ll make their path straight, no matter what their grades are.
This revelation has provided such freedom.
I can celebrate when one of my kids excels in a subject, trusting that particular success is needed for whatever God intends for them in life. If, however, a child struggles and can’t grasp a certain subject — well, that’s also part of God’s direction.
Of course, working hard, doing your best and being a conscientious student is important. But in our home, grades are not the ultimate determination of success.
This child may never make marks in school that the world esteems, but giving her freedom to excel as God has designed her is already paying off. She has an eternal perspective that’s more valuable for her future than any academic accolades.
I’m convinced her struggles in school are actually God’s way of keeping her on the path He’s had for her since she was conceived. Hope was conceived only four months into our very rough start of a marriage. Art and I were two broken sinners thrust into the responsibility of trying to raise a child.
The day Hope was born I saw God like never before. His tender grace was handed to me wrapped in a pink blanket with eyes so wide, so blue, they were a sea of forgiveness forever staring back at me.
I’d never physically touched God until that day. And maybe for the first time in my entire life, His hope rushed inside of me and started rearranging and redeeming my brokenness.
We named her Hope.
Now, we won’t talk about the conversations I had with God when His Hope kept me up in the middle of the night for months after that. And we will save the story of how His Hope has always felt it was beneath her to be the child, and she would put her hands on her toddler hips and tell me not to boss her.
We’ll save those stories for another day.
But I’ll never forget an e-mail I got from His Hope while she was on a mission trip. Hope was walking the broken roads of Ethiopia navigating poverty her mind couldn’t quite process. She bumped into sheep and a woman whose house was made of cardboard and ripped bed sheets.
Hope’s steps were steady, though her heart felt shaky as she loved on 30 kids dying of AIDS in a forgotten orphanage on the forgotten outskirts of town.
She wrote to say, “Mom, I’ve fallen in love. The kids rushed at me when I walked in and I tried to hold all 30 of them at one time.”
From a broken mama. Into a broken world. His Hope is still going forth like only His Hope can.
All that to say, yeah — I don’t get all worked up over grades anymore. Trusting God’s plan is the only secret I know in the gentle art of not freaking out.
“Rend your heart, and not your garments.”
Garment-rending and other outward signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonial regulations–for such things are pleasing to the flesh–but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of the carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the article of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.
Heart-rending is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but then it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.
The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Saviour’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend their vestures in the day of lamentation.
OUR DELIVERER BY WARREN WIERSBE
Read Psalm 140:1-13
King David was going through another battle. He needed deliverance from an attacking enemy. “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men” (vv. 1-4). David’s enemies had hidden snares to trap him.
What do you do when you face this situation–when evil, violent, lying people are busy setting traps for you? Remember that God hears you. “I said to the Lord: ‘You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord”‘ (v. 6). God also strengthens you. “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle” (v. 7). If you have to do battle against the Enemy today, let God outfit you in the armor you need. Finally, God vindicates you. David prayed that God would vindicate him and that his enemies’ own sins would destroy them.
David concluded by giving thanks to the Lord. “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence” (vv. 12,13). The battle over, he said, “One day I am going to dwell in Your presence, where there will be no more lying, slandering, battling, fighting or sinning.” We will enjoy the peace of God forever.
A SYMBOL OF DISASTER BY WOODROW KROLL
In his book Present Day Parables, J. Wilbur Chapman, a late 19th-century evangelist, tells of a town where the name of Christ was never mentioned except in profanity. The citizens hung Christ in effigy in the streets. Then the town was destroyed by fire. They tried to rebuild, but an Indian massacre occurred. They tried to build again, and it was partially destroyed by fire. At last, after much bloodshed and multiple disasters, the citizens sent to the American Home Missionary Society and asked, “Can you send us a minister of Jesus Christ?” Only after Christ came to that town did the people have peace and a degree of prosperity.
God warned Solomon the same would happen to his kingdom if he or his descendants should ever turn from following Him. Not only would He remove Israel from the land, but the consequences would be so dramatic that all the nations around her also would be amazed at what happened. The people would become a symbol of disaster to warn others who might be so foolish.
Israel should be a reminder to every Christian of the dire consequences of leaving God out of our lives. As the descendants of Solomon suffered in the ways God warned them, so believers can experience much pain and loss when they live in disregard to His will and His ways.
Don’t forget God. Remember to include Him in the daily routine of your life. Don’t just take Him with you to church; take Him to the mall, to the classroom, to the health club. Ask for His guidance in every decision you make, big and little, and look for His hand in every turn of life. When He fills your life, it is full indeed.
We let God down when we leave Him out.