Friday, April 18, 2014

It's All A Set Up

"But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Galatians 4: 4-5)

Because Holy Week and Easter often fall in April, one of the daily devotionals that I study each morning has dedicated this month to the last few hours of the earthly life of Christ. Taking thirty days to go over the events of a few hours time has lent itself to going slowly and deliciously in-depth in regard to the details. I'm one of those line by line, precept by precept bible studiers anyway. The more I can squeeze out of a word or single phrase of Scripture, the more excited I get.

Studying the final hours that Jesus spent on planet Earth as the Son of Man has led me to draw one conclusion. God is in the business of setting things up. Being all powerful, He could accomplish His purposes with just a word going forth from His lips. Really, He doesn't have to get up from His throne, and He doesn't even need to speak. All He has to do is think it, will it, and it will be done exactly as He wants it to be. More than now and again that's not how He works. If you don't just look at the familiar verses that we focus on every year at this time, but look deeper into the environment in which those events took place, you'll see something so remarkable, and I'm praying that "something" will bring you new hope today.

Before the foundation of the world, God knew what would take place in the Garden of Eden. He knew that the man and woman He created would be deceived by the serpent and that sin would spoil the perfection which was His original intent for mankind. He also knew that He would have to do something to bring fallen man back into right fellowship with Him. He had to do something because of His love. From that moment on, His plan of redemption could realistically have taken place at any time, but He skipped generation after generation of His people, waiting for the perfect conditions, to send His son, made of a woman to redeem mankind. When the fullness of the time was come, He would send Jesus.    

There would be a particular virgin girl named Mary. There would be a kind-hearted, righteous Joseph. There would be a designated time for a census. There would be a loving home for the boy to grow up in. When His time for ministry came, there would be men in position to become His close band of followers. The political and religious climate of the day would have to be perfect. Roman law would mix with Jewish religious law and form a unique set of circumstances that would be just what was needed to bring Jesus to a death sentence of crucifixion. Caiaphas would have to be high priest. Pilate would be governor of Judea throughout the entire length of Jesus' ministry. Herod Antipas would be tetrarch of Galilee, and both he and Pilate would find themselves in the city of Jerusalem during that particular Passover feast. I wish that I could do a more in depth study with you right here so that you could see some of the most minute details that had to be in place for God's plan to come to fruition in just the right way and at just the right time. The right stew of political, social and religious environs all mixed together, and the fullness of the time was come. God had set up the details perfectly and then, not one moment too soon or too late, He told His Son, "Now is Your time."

Why, in our present situations and circumstances, do we think we're exempt from the process? God is a God of order and plans and purposes. Jeremiah 29: 11 says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Where there's an end, there was first a beginning. To get from the start to the finish, there must be a process in between. Details must be worked out perfectly to achieve that expected end, and that's the part where God sets it all up just the way He chooses.  He pays close attention to the details. It is then, and only then, that He says to you, "Now is YOUR time."

We would be patient if it weren't for all the waiting.

It is right in the middle of the waiting dear one, where God is paying perfect attention to each and every detail that needs to be in place for your own expected end. At a wedding in Cana, Jesus told His mother, "My time has not yet come." (John 2: 4) Later, when His disciples urged Him to go to Judea for the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews were there, waiting to take His life. Jesus told His friends, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right." (John 7: 1-6) That's you and me, isn't it? We think that any time is right. We want it to happen and we want it now. "Any time now, Lord! Any time would be right!" Jesus shows us otherwise. He could have gone to Judea and let them take Him at that very moment and the whole thing would have been over. But He trusted His Father enough to know that the perfect plan would be carried out in the perfect way and at the perfect time. Can we trust Him that much?

When God knows that the time is right, it will happen; even more so, if He has promised it to you in His Word. I read somewhere that the time preceding the event is like a glass of water slowly filling up as the time rolls on until when the glass is full it has reached the time for the designated event to occur.

Matthew Henry said, "Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honour our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him."
Your Heavenly Father knows what you're going through today. He has a plan to bring you to your expected end. A plan that is good and perfect because He has taken the time to pay attention to the details. Don't fight the process. Embrace it. Let not one moment of it be wasted. Let it draw you nearer to Him in trust and expectancy. When the fullness of your time has come, you will see that you wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Jesus knew that. Learn from Him for He is gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your weary soul.

 
 
   
          

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seventh Inning Stretch

The other day, one of the elders at our church referred to those of us fifty and over, as being in the fourth quarter of life. This is not a new or shocking revelation for me. I've told my man not a few times that I've lived more years than I likely have years ahead. He doesn't like it when I say that, but truth is truth. I just turned fifty-seven.

I've been struggling lately with a whole lot of regret. "If only I had" has been a recurring thought. This thought doesn't involve anything major, like marrying my husband. I'd do it again in a hot second. My kids? Absolutely never a regret! I wouldn't have missed them for the world! 

Some of it is rather personal; not sharable here. But can I just say that I have left a trail of quite a few years behind me, and there are indisputably things that I would've done differently?

I wish I was in my thirties again. My whole life ahead of me. Wisdom like I have today. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, right?

The truth is, I'm no longer thirty. I'm fifty-seven, and maybe these regrets aren't just something I've dreamed up. Not to give any credit to the enemy at all, but I think some of it is just a mental battle he wages to make me depressed, discouraged, and ineffective.

I've done too many things wrong.
I've wasted too many years.
I'm too old now.
It's too late.

I could have...
I should have...
If I would have...

He only lets me host my unattended pity party for so long. Gently, on a spring morning, He knocks on the door of my heart and enters to sit awhile and reason with me.

He says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43: 18-19)

Um mm...no.

He shakes His head and says, "Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which I called you heavenward in my Son." (Philippians 3:13-14)

O. Kay. But...

With a smile on His face, His words perfectly echoing my thoughts, as if He can read my mind, "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (Isaiah 46:4)

"I will sustain you, like I did Paul, and Peter, and David. Look what they became in spite of the things that lay in their pasts. They made mistakes. Big ones! Paul murdered my followers! Peter denied me! David!! He slept with Bathsheba and murdered her husband! For goodness sake, child! Go back and read about what I did with their lives and see what I can do with yours! It's not over until I say it's over!"

You know what? I'm not a big football fan, so I'm not relating so much to that fourth quarter thing. I do love me some baseball though. 

I would prefer to look at this period of my life as a seventh inning stretch.

I'm going to stand up. 
I'm going to shake it all off.
I'm going to str.....et....ch. 
I'm going to get back in the game! 

And if I'm really blessed maybe I'll get to play some extra innings!


Saturday, March 08, 2014

Is God A Good Father?

I think that the Word of Faith people get a bad rap. Don't get me wrong. Many have gone way out of line over the years. Just hear me out on this one issue, and see if you don't agree. Believe me, I've been round and round about this thing in my head many times and I always come back to the same answer for the question, "Is God a good Father, or not?"

For some reason, it's easier for us to believe that God wants us to be poor, like it's some badge of honor or something. For some reason, it's easier to believe that God has made us sick to teach us a lesson. We cringe when we hear preachers talk about how God wants us to prosper and be in good health; that He wants to heal us and see us have good success.

Is God a good Father, or not?

A good earthly parent would NEVER wish sickness and disease on the child that they love, would they?

A good earthly parent takes great delight in their children being successful, fulfilling their dreams and prospering in all that they do, right?

We who are imperfect, fumbling, mistake-making parents, only want the absolute best for our children. How much more do you think God, the perfect Father, wants the absolute best for us? He even says so in His Word.

"Yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant." 
(Psalm 35:27 KJV)

That's pretty clear, isn't it?

Just as I am so over the moon when my children are succeeding, healthy and happy in their lives, when God sees us prospering and being in good health, He is over the universe over it!

Now, be sure that there IS one who DOES want you to be sick and poor and suffering. He is the enemy that Jesus told us about. The one who has made it his mission to come into our lives and steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus said that He came so that we could have life, in abundance, to the full, until it overflows!  

The next time you're tempted to say, "Weelll, God must just be trying to teach me a lesson. This sickness must be God's will for this season in my life." The next time you're tempted to think that lack is a noble thing in the eyes of God, ask yourself this question: "Is God a good Father, or not?"

The answer is a resounding YES! 

 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. 
(Matthew 7: 9-11 NLT)


 
 

Friday, March 07, 2014

Just Wait A Minute

"As many times as you've prayed before, today may be the day when God sends the answer so swiftly--so divinely--that you're windburned." ~ Beth Moore

Do you believe that, beloved? 

I may just be the only one, but if we're honest I think most of us have prayed about some things for so long that we figure "what's the use?" God's answer must simply be no. But what if we started to look at it in a different way? 

Let's allow Joseph to teach us a little lesson on expectancy, lest we're tempted to just give up.

Remember Joseph? 
Thrown in a pit and left to die by his brothers? 
Falsely accused by his master's wife and thrown in prison?
Forgotten by his fellow inmates and left alone?
(Read his story in Genesis 37-50)


One minute he was in a stinky water well, listening to his brothers laughing over dinner above his head, and the next moment, they were pulling him out and putting him on a caravan to Egypt.  

One minute Joseph was going on over two years of being in prison, and the very next moment an official was telling him to get dressed and shaved for an audience with Pharaoh. 

One minute he was interpreting a king's dream, and the very next minute he was in charge of the entire land that had held him prisoner for so long. 

He went from the pit to the prison to the palace, in a series of one minutes. 

You see, you just never know when your "the next minute" is going to be.  

If Joseph had given up hope at any time from the pit to the prison, he may have missed the exact moments of his multiple deliverance's. 

You see, God had a plan and His plan was bigger than anything Joseph could ever imagine.  

He has a plan for my life. He has a plan for your life. 

The very next minute in time, could be the very moment of your deliverance from whatever pit or prison you find yourself in today. 

Hold on to your hat, dear one!

Just Wait A Minute!

"LORD, in the morning you will hear me; 
in the morning I will present my case to you
 and then wait expectantly for an answer."
Psalm 5: 3 NET