If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Changes: God’s Opportunity to Bless
We all have changes in our lives. From day to day we need God to help us get through whatever may come our way. Some days we may be shouting, “Praise God!” while other times we may be crying out, “I need a miracle!” Whatever the day may bring, changes will come and we need to have a godly mindset in order to handle them.
I was in a chapel service recently, and I kept thinking about all the changes that were going on in my life. Between the daily challenges that my husband and I have in our home with raising two teenagers, the constant transitions with our jobs, and the world around us in general — they all speak of changes.
As I thought about it, I felt God drop this pearl into my heart. It is the acronym for the word changes:
Wow! We can look at each new day and even each second as an opportunity for God to bless us! Each moment contains a gift from God if we want to look for it. It can be in a smile from someone at work, an encouraging word from a friend, God’s Word speaking to our hearts, or a pat on the back from our bosses. The list is endless. Let’s not overlook the obvious ones like a promotion, good report cards from our children, a Sunday school child who calls us his or her hero, an unexpected financial blessing, a whole week without something breaking in the house, and good health.
In Malachi 3:6God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” Isn’t that comforting? With all the changes, there is one thing that cannot change — GOD. This includes His great love for us.
He also says in His Word,
“So God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence”Hebrews 6:18
What has God promised you? He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you, no matter what.
“For the Lord will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance” Psalm 94:14
“…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” Hebrews 13:5
So let the changes come. We will not walk in fear, but in faith! We will trust God with all the changes, and know that He is more than able to help us and that He even has plans to bless us.
Every second, if need be, we can find a blessing. Changes can be our friend. Let’s look for God in them.
Can God change your life?
We were recently on a vacation when God interrupted my plans. My family and I had traveled hundreds of miles to stay at a hotel on the beach. I had made arrangements to spend one day visiting with friends. But then, in the middle of the night, the night before my scheduled day out, one of my kids woke up sick. I spent the whole next day stuck inside, staring out the hotel window at the long stretch of beach that was just outside of my reach.
An Interrupted Life
My life is filled with interruptions, inconveniences, frustrations, and unexpected events. Things break. Accidents happen. The phone rings just as I climb into bed. Traffic makes me late. Just when we don’t need another added expense, an appliance breaks. Unexpected illnesses change my carefully crafted plans. I could go on and on. You probably could too.
The problem is, I usually handle these interruptions to my life poorly. I react with frustration and anger. Like a young child, I want to stomp my feet and say, “It’s not fair!” I blame others for inconveniencing me. I’ll even throw my own pity parties.
“Small frustrations and interruptions give us opportunities to rely on God.”
Though these interruptions are unexpected and catch me off guard, they do not catch God off guard. They are not random, meaningless events. In fact, these interruptions are divinely placed in my path for a reason. God uses these interruptions to change me to be more like Christ.
Slow traffic, a sick child, or a costly home repair may not seem like important tools in our sanctification, but they are. We often overlook these interruptions and inconveniences and instead expect God to work in our lives through huge life-changing circumstances. But the reality is, we often won’t have major events in our life that cause us to trust God and obey him in some deeply profound way. We won’t be called to build an ark or take an only child up Mount Moriah. Rather, it’s in these small frustrations and interruptions, the little things in our life, where we are given opportunities to rely on God, to obey him, and to bring him glory.
Paul Tripp puts it like this:
You and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts. (Whiter Than Snow, 21)
Interruptions of Grace
These ten thousand little moments come in the form of our children asking us to play a game with them when we are tied up with something else. They are moments like when we get stuck behind a school bus when we’re already late to an appointment, or when we have a flat tire on the way to work. They are in all those moments all throughout the day when things don’t go our way, our plans fail, and our life is interrupted.
It’s these moments where the rubber meets the road — where our faith is stretched and we look down to see whether we are standing on rock or sand. Do we really believe that God is in control of all the details of our life? Do we really believe that his grace is sufficient to get us through the day? Do we really believe that the gospel of Christ is powerful enough not only to save us for eternity, but also to sustain and strengthen us in the midst of life’s interruptions? Do we really believe that Christ is enough to satisfy all the deepest needs of our heart?
These interruptions are acts of God’s grace. They force us to work through these questions. They make us face our sin. They are God’s way of taking off our blinders and making us see that we need the gospel in every moment of the day. They are a light that shines on the darkest recesses of our heart, revealing the truth of what’s really there — the sins and idols that we’ve pushed off into the corner, thinking that if we can’t see them, they must not exist.
The Reminder We Need
These interruptions remind us that we don’t have life figured out and that we can’t do it on our own. They are like the Shepherd’s rod, pulling us back from our wandering ways, back to our Great Shepherd. We need these interruptions. Like nothing else, they push us to the cross of Christ where we must remember the gospel and receive his grace and forgiveness.
“Christ cares more about our transformation than about our daily comfort.”
It’s hard to see all the little frustrating events and interruptions in our day as divinely placed opportunities to grow in grace, but they are. And seeing them as such helps us take our eyes off ourselves and put them on Christ, who cares more about our transformation than about our daily comfort. Rather than giving us a life of ease, he interrupts our lives with grace and shows us what we need most of all: himself.
How about you? Is your life filled with interruptions? Do you see God’s hand at work in them?
A Prayer to Keep it Together When Your Life is Falling Apart
By” Cindi McMenamin, crosswalk.com
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:28-29)
The drama that life brings is inevitable. Yet how we respond to it determines whether or not it will be fruitful in our lives in conforming us to the image of Christ. Our response to the drama also determines whether God gets the glory or we shine the spotlight on our frailties, insecurities, and emotional instability.
With help from God’s Word, plus some practical guidance, you and I can be drama free – even when the unthinkable happens. Even when you are clearly a victim. Even when life takes an unexpected turn and you are caught in an overwhelming whirlwind of circumstances that would make any person lose it. Even then.
Here are four ways that you can keep it together when it feels like your life is falling apart. (These four steps spell the word “CALM” which is what you can be if you practice them.)
C – Consider the bigger picture.
Life – and therefore every circumstance you encounter – is meant to conform you to the image of Christ. Once you consider this, you can relax and realize God knows what He’s doing in the circumstances He’s allowing. And you can focus on passing the test, rather than failing it through unnecessary drama.
A – Acknowledge God is in control.
You are going to trust the God of miracles and whatever He decides to do or not do, for your greater good. Try taking a look at God’s track record in the stories of the Bible. People went through trial after trial, but when they acknowledged God’s control and remained faithful to Him in spite of their circumstances, they experienced deliverance, protection, comfort, and peace. God has an excellent track record of honoring those who trust Him.
L – Look for the lesson.
Ask God to show you what He wants you to see in the moment, and then stay tuned to His instruction. I find it is helpful, and a reminder to me that God is working in my life, when I say aloud, “God, show me what You want me to see in this situation” or, “Mold me through this, God,” or, “Open my eyes to the truth of Who You are through this situation and my pain.” Maybe your short prayer is simply, “Change me through this, Lord Jesus.” By acknowledging that God is doing something through our situation, we won’t miss the lesson.
M – Make it a point to praise.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are instructed to “give thanks in all circumstances: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Note that command says in all circumstances, even the unexpected, uncomfortable, and unwanted circumstances. As we thank God for our circumstances – and for whatever He determines to do through them – it will change our perspective and make us people who anticipate His provision, rather than dread the worst.
Left Alone – Streams in the Desert – February 27
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Gen. 32:24).
Left alone! What different sensations those words conjure up to each of us. To some they spell loneliness and desolation, to others rest and quiet. To be left alone without God, would be too awful for words, but to be left alone with Him is a foretaste of Heaven! If His followers spent more time alone with Him, we should have spiritual giants again.
The Master set us an example. Note how often He went to be alone with God; and He had a mighty purpose behind the command, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.”
The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. It was alone with God that Jacob became a prince; and just there that we, too, may become princes–“men (aye, and women too!) wondered at” (Zech. 3:8). Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him. (Josh. 1:1) Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel. (Judges 6:11 and 11:29) Moses was by himself at the wilderness bush. (Exodus 3:1-5) Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel came to him. (Acts 10:2) No one was with Peter on the house top, when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9) John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (Luke 1:90), and John the Beloved alone in Patmos, when nearest God. (Rev. 1:9)
Covet to get alone with God. If we neglect it, we not only rob ourselves, but others too, of blessing, since when we are blessed we are able to pass on blessing to others. It may mean less outside work; it must mean more depth and power, and the consequence, too, will be “they saw no man save Jesus only.”
To be alone with God in prayer cannot be over-emphasized.
If chosen men had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done.