Remember the Good Things
Every Autumn, just as the seasons are changing, I take a moment to bake something wonderful. It’s a special occasion, one that I hold close to my heart, and I mark it each year with a favorite confection, whether it’s cookies or cupcakes or a really big cake. I have some fun, pour my heart into my creation, and share it with my family and friends as a reminder of all that God has done for me and, really, for all of us.
I haven’t decided what I’m baking yet this year, but it’s been on my mind as the days have grown shorter and sweet memories begin to bubble up. A few years ago, I was miraculously delivered from a sin that I couldn’t manage to leave behind no matter what I tried. I prayed for years, I changed my habits, I talked with Christian counselors, but I had come to the point where I thought, “maybe this is just the thorn in my side that I’ll be fighting until I die.”
At the very least, I’d gone from believing my sin was too big for God to handle to realizing that God was willing to work with me. He was willing to transform me, and I was okay with taking time to do that. But then there came a night when I told a friend, “I think God’s gonna do it. He’s going to set me free,” and only a few minutes later, He did.
This was a moment I believed defined my walk with God. It was definitely a turning point, and in the years following, I’ve made a point not to forget it. It’s vital for us to remember that God is merciful to us, and to remember just how merciful he can be. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15-16:
“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (NLT)
When God set me free, I told him that I would glorify His name. I told Him that if He did the impossible and broke a cycle that I was too weak to overcome, I’d tell other people that He can do that for them too. As it’s said in Isaiah 63:7,
“I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love. I will praise the Lord for all he has done …” (NLT)
God tells us to remember the things He’s done. It’s easy to forget, and I’ll admit I have days when I don’t go out of my way to be grateful for how far God has brought me in my life. He’s done such incredible things for me, and if I can manage to mark these events and share them with others, I’ll go out of my way to do them! I hope you have something to celebrate this season, and that God’s goodness will be on your mind.
Father God, thank you for your goodness, grace, and mercy. Thank you for all you do in our lives and for the ways you work with us to make us holy and righteous before you. I lift up whoever is reading this and ask that you remind them of how You have worked in their lives. Give them the same abundant grace and mercy you have given me, and let them experience turning points in their faith that they can share with others to glorify You. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:15-16: “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (NLT))
Streams in the Desert – October 21
- 202121 Oct
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor. 5:1).
The owner of the tenement which I have occupied for many years has given notice that he will furnish but little or nothing more for repairs. I am advised to be ready to move.
At first this was not a very welcome notice. The surroundings here are in many respects very pleasant, and were it not for the evidence of decay, I should consider the house good enough. But even a light wind causes it to tremble and totter, and all the braces are not sufficient to make it secure. So I am getting ready to move.
It is strange how quickly one’s interest is transferred to the prospective home. I have been consulting maps of the new country and reading descriptions of its inhabitants. One who visited it has returned, and from him I learn that it is beautiful beyond description; language breaks down in attempting to tell of what he heard while there. He says that, in order to make an investment there, he has suffered the loss of all things that he owned here, and even rejoices in what others would call making a sacrifice. Another, whose love to me has been proven by the greatest possible test, is now there. He has sent me several clusters of the most delicious fruits. After tasting them, all food here seems insipid.
Two or three times I have been down by the border of the river that forms the boundary, and have wished myself among the company of those who were singing praises to the King on the other side. Many of my friends have moved there. Before leaving they spoke of my coming later. I have seen the smile upon their faces as they passed out of sight. Often I am asked to make some new investments here, but my answer in every case is, “I am getting ready to move.”
The words often on Jesus’ lips in His last days express vividly the idea, “going to the Father.” We, too, who are Christ’s people, have vision of something beyond the difficulties and disappointments of this life. We are journeying towards fulfillment, completion, expansion of life. We, too, are “going to the Father.” Much is dim concerning our home-country, but two things are clear. It is home, “the Father’s House.” It is the nearer presence of the Lord. We are all wayfarers, but the believer knows it and accepts it. He is a traveller, not a settler.
–R. C. Gillie
The little birds trust God, for they go singing
From northern woods where autumn winds have blown,
With joyous faith their trackless pathway winging
To summer-lands of song, afar, unknown.
Let us go singing, then, and not go sighing:
Since we are sure our times are in His hand,
Why should we weep, and fear, and call it dying?
‘Tis only flitting to a Summer-land.
Psalms 89:30-33 30“If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, 31if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, 32I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; 33but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.
In this psalm about God’s promises to David we see in a shadow God’s promises to the “Son of David”, Christ Jesus. We are His offspring, His seed, in Biblical terms (Isaiah 53:12). In type then, we see God’s attitude toward us when we sin. We are still sons, but God is neither indulgent nor ruthless. He will not let us go on without dealing with our sin, but He does not deal with it in a way that would crush us or cause His heart to turn from us.
That flogging often goes ignored by us at first. We chalk it up to circumstances, refusing to examine our hearts. When it comes to our own heart, we can be our worst deceiver and the most gullible of fools. We seem to find a justification for anything we wish to indulge in. Meanwhile the heart of our Father aches, knowing He is going to have to afflict us in a more serious way to get us to open our eyes.
When that happens, we cry out and ask, “Where is the God of love we once knew?” His love is still with you, but it is being expressed in faithfulness to turn you from the sin you refuse to admit is clouding your heart and judgment. Through it all, He weeps with you, hurts with you, as any loving father would when dealing severely with his own children. Thank God for His faithful love, even when it comes in the form of painful discipline. His love will not allow you to go on deceiving yourself.
God’s Perfect Timing
“In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’ he asked. The Lord said, ‘Go up.’ David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the Lord answered.” – 2 Samuel 2:1 NIV
Saul was dead. Israel’s civil war was over. Now, what was David to do? It seemed time for him to take the throne as king. Some could not understand why he had not acted earlier. After all, he already had been anointed as king.
But David had learned the importance of waiting for God’s time. So, he acted not when he could have, but “in the course of time.” After seeking God, he moved forward only after receiving His clear direction – at the right time, God’s time.
David’s life was a testimony to the importance of waiting on God, a principle reinforced throughout his writings. He wrote, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). And, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).
As David demonstrated, to be used by God, we need to act when He directs. We always need to be sensitive to His leading and guidance. And we must remain patient – patient for God to prepare the way, for the right circumstances, for the time to be right, and for our training to be complete.
Make sure you are sensitive to God’s timing for the challenges you face. Seek His directions for your decisions. Don’t make assumptions but listen for His guidance. His time may not be your time. Wait and be ready to move forward only as He directs.