The Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6: 8
…7 And when you pray, do not babble on like pagans, for they think that by their many words they will be heard.
9 So then, this is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,…
The Habit of Recognizing God’s Provision
We are made “partakers of the divine nature,” receiving and sharing God’s own nature through His promises. Then we have to work that divine nature into our human nature by developing godly habits. The first habit to develop is the habit of recognizing God’s provision for us. We say, however, “Oh, I can’t afford it.” One of the worst lies is wrapped up in that statement. We talk as if our heavenly Father has cut us off without a penny! We think it is a sign of true humility to say at the end of the day, “Well, I just barely got by today, but it was a severe struggle.” And yet all of Almighty God is ours in the Lord Jesus! And He will reach to the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us if we will only obey Him. Does it really matter that our circumstances are difficult? Why shouldn’t they be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God’s riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives.
Before God becomes satisfied with us, He will take everything of our so-called wealth, until we learn that He is our Source; as the psalmist said, “All my springs are in You” (Psalm 87:7). If the majesty, grace, and power of God are not being exhibited in us, God holds us responsible. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you…may have an abundance…” (2 Corinthians 9:8)— then learn to lavish the grace of God on others, generously giving of yourself. Be marked and identified with God’s nature, and His blessing will flow through you all the time.
|May 16, 2017
A Better Way to Look at Disappointment
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered.” John 21:4-5 (NIV)
Everywhere I look, people are celebrating their successes. Their beautiful children, their awesome husbands and the coolest DIY projects. I’m happy for them … for the most part. But there’s a part of me I prefer to hide that whispers, “Why not me, Lord?”
It’s not that I don’t have much to be thankful for; I do. But there are these other disappointing realities I live with daily. Areas of my life that aren’t stellar, noteworthy or successful. Areas where no matter how hard I try, I just don’t experience success.
My go-to response for many years was to work harder in those areas … all the while beating myself up internally for not being disciplined, creative or smart enough.
And yet, God has been showing me something in these disappointing areas: They aren’t all due to my weakness. Sometimes God holds back success with the divine purpose of teaching me something.
I think that’s what happened to the disciples. There’s a story told in John 21, after Jesus’ death. The disciples had seen Jesus alive and had gone to Galilee to wait for His return.
One night, a few of the disciples went fishing. These guys were born to fish. But that night, after hours floating in the silent dark, they caught nothing.
The story takes an interesting turn as the sun starts to rise. Jesus stood on the edge of the lake (although they didn’t recognize Him at first). I’m sure He’d been watching them for hours … maybe even all night.
And I suspect He commanded the fish to stay back from the boat for a while. After all, He’d directed the wind and waves, and cast out demons, so surely He could direct some fish.
Jesus needed to teach His disciples an important lesson. And in order to learn it well, they had to experience some failure. Jesus spoke to the weary fishermen, as we read inJohn 21:5b-6a:
“Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” (NIV)
Scripture doesn’t record the disciples’ thoughts, but I can imagine they were a bit annoyed at this piece of advice. After all, they were professional fishermen, doing everything they knew to do. The fish obviously weren’t there!
Have you ever felt that way about your life? You’ve done everything you know to do, but nothing changes?
The disciples were about to learn an important lesson about success and failure. They obeyed Jesus’ directive, shifted the nets to the other side of the boat, and Scripture records: “When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (>John 21:6b, NIV)
At that moment they recognized the Lord, and the disciples headed to shore, towing the fish behind. The disciples didn’t just have success, they had great success.
Jesus needed the disciples to see the difference between self-directed effort and Jesus-directed effort. And in order to show them, He let them fail on their own first.
Oh, how I need to learn this lesson myself. I wonder if Jesus has watched me try on my own and held back success while I do. Is He just waiting for me to listen for His voice? To watch for His plan?
For those of us “can-do” women, this is a lesson to let soak deep in our spirits. Yes, we can do many things on our own, but that doesn’t mean we should. Why would we choose to ignore the greatest source of wisdom and power ever known, in exchange for our paltry efforts in comparison?
When we operate in our power, we see what we can do. When we operate under Jesus’ direction and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we see what God can do.
As I look back on my life, the times I’ve seen God work in the greatest ways are when I admit my natural strength isn’t enough. That’s when His supernatural strength is evident. Viewed from this perspective, it reminds me sometimes failure is an opportunity to see God work miracles.
God is always up to something for my good. And that’s a much better way to look at disappointment.
Lord, thank You for working in my life, even in ways that look like failure. Help me keep my eyes on You and not on my situation. Help me trust You more, especially when I face what looks like a disappointment. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
From: Our Daily Journey
During a recent presidential election year in my country, I found myself disappointed by the behavior of some of our Christian leaders. They told us to put our hope in Jesus, but their words and actions indicated they were putting their hope in “Caesar”—in political power.
Perhaps I’m wrong. I’m reminded of author Greg Boyle’s insight that Jesus offended nearly everyone in His day. He would’ve likely offended both sides of my country’s current political divide. Indeed, I might be disappointed or angry about the behavior of some leaders’ words and actions, but I shouldn’t assume that Jesus thinks the same as I do about all political matters.
When Pilate was cross-examining Jesus at his headquarters, he asked: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (John 18:33). After some back and forth, Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
No matter our political stance, we have to be careful not to put too much hope in any one political candidate or party to restore our nation or community. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that we “are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Politicians can do a great deal of good for people. They can also do great harm. No politician, however, can change a human heart or completely restore corrupt systems. Jesus alone has authority over everything in heaven and on earth, and so we must ultimately hope and trust in Him (Acts 4:12; Colossians 1:15-20).