Circumstances (unabridged)

Can you determine whether or not God is pleased with you by evaluating the circumstances around you? If so, then God is pleased and blesses you when circumstances are suitable, and pleasant, and to your liking. On the other hand, if you are in the midst of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day—or week, or season—then God is not pleased with you. Apparently you are not trusting Him as you should, not walking by faith as He wills, or are not filled with the Holy Spirit as He commands.

If the kids are doing well, then God must be satisfied. If business is rebounding, then God must be blessing you. If your world is in relative peace, then apparently God’s hand is on you. If everything is going your way, then God’s care is evident.

But if the converse is your experience, then God is not happy and He desires for you to do more—more trust, more faith, more prayer, more contemplation of Scripture, more spiritual discipline, more consistency, etc.

Bluntly:  If life is as you want it to be, then God is pleased with you. If it is not, then God wants you to do differently.

True?

Here’s the rub:  We read in the Scriptures that people of profound faith trusted God and He delivered them from the lion’s den unscathed (Dan. 6:16, Heb. 11:33). We also know from history that other people of profound faith trusted God and the lions tore them to pieces and ate their parts. Both trusted God, both demonstrated faith. God delivered one and let the other die a torturous death.

Was He pleased with the one and displeased with the other?

For those of us who live in the west, we are privileged to dwell in the wealthiest, most advanced nation in the world. Are we more blessed than those who live elsewhere?

Don’t be deceived. Just because you know someone who lives in more affluence than you, you are still vastly more wealthy than the majority of the world, and far wealthier than most of the world’s Believers…even in these down times. Does this mean you are more blessed and they are less blessed?

What about those who teach that you must simply pray and God will enlarge your business, your influence, your contact list, your car, your account, your health, or your house? Of course, many of these folks offer the disclaimer that these things are for God’s glory. But if the truth be told, they are really to affirm our faith and God’s blessing of us.

But what about those folks who pray and trust and do not receive tangible evidences of God’s blessing? Is He less pleased with them? What of the folks who are eaten by the lions of economics, recession, downturns, disease, and poor decisions?

Read carefully. If you believe such trite theology you leave yourself circumstantially vulnerable to the devil’s attack. Your Heavenly Father’s love, blessing, and pleasure cannot be measured, determined, or observed by your circumstances. Your significance, importance, acceptance, worth, and standing with Him cannot—must not—be appraised circumstantially.

If you miss this point, not only will you subject yourself to disappointment and disillusionment if circumstances don’t tumble your way, but you will compromise your role in Father’s story. Life is not about you. It is about Him. The life you are living is not your story but the part you play in His story.

What is your calling in life? Jesus said it was to love God with everything you possess (Mt. 22:36 ff). Paul said his determined purpose was to know Christ (Phil. 3:10). Our forefathers declared, Sola Christos, “Christ alone.”

So the real question before us is, can you know Christ and love Him with everything you possess, resting confidently in your standing with Him, whether circumstances are to your liking or not?

Our Heavenly Father is determined to remind us with every passing breath that we are important to Him because of who we are, not because of what we possess or what we have done.

Do you believe Him?

Circumstances, Part 2

For those of us who live in the west, we are privileged to dwell in the wealthiest, most advanced nation in the world. Are we more blessed than those who live elsewhere? Don’t be deceived. Just because you know someone who lives in more affluence than you, you are still vastly more wealthy than the majority of the world, and far wealthier than most of the world’s Believers…even in these down times. Does this mean you are more blessed and they are less blessed?

What about those who teach that you must simply pray and God will enlarge your business, your influence, your contact list, your car, your account, your health, or your house? Of course, many of these folks offer the disclaimer that these things are for God’s glory. But if the truth be told, they are really to affirm our faith and God’s blessing of us.

But what about those folks who pray and trust and do not receive tangible evidences of God’s blessing? Is He less pleased with them? What of the folks who are eaten by the lions of economics, recession, downturns, disease, and poor decisions?

Read carefully. If you believe such trite theology you leave yourself circumstantially vulnerable to the devil’s attack. Your Heavenly Father’s love, blessing, and pleasure cannot be measured, determined, or observed by your circumstances. Your significance, importance, acceptance, worth, and standing with Him cannot—must not—be appraised circumstantially.

If you miss this point, not only will you subject yourself to disappointment and disillusionment if circumstances don’t tumble your way, but you will compromise your role in Father’s story. Life is not about you. It is about Him. The life you are living is not your story but the part you play in His story.

What is your calling in life? Jesus said it was to love God with everything you possess (Mt. 22:36 ff). Paul said his determined purpose was to know Christ (Phil. 3:10). Our forefathers declared, Sola Christos, “Christ alone.”

So the real question before us is, can you know Christ and love Him with everything you possess, resting confidently in your standing with Him, whether circumstances are to your liking or not?

Our Heavenly Father is determined to remind us with every passing breath that we are important to Him because of who we are, not because of what we possess or what we have done.

Do you believe Him?

 

Circumstances, Part 1

Can you determine whether or not God is pleased with you by evaluating the circumstances around you? If so, then God is pleased and blesses you when circumstances are suitable, and pleasant, and to your liking. On the other hand, if you are in the midst of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day—or week, or season—then God is not pleased with you. Apparently you are not trusting Him as you should, not walking by faith as He wills, or are not filled with the Holy Spirit as He commands.

If the kids are doing well, then God must be satisfied. If business is rebounding, then God must be blessing you. If your world is in relative peace, then apparently God’s hand is on you. If everything is going your way, then God’s care is evident.

But if the converse is your experience, then God is not happy and He desires for you to do more—more trust, more faith, more prayer, more contemplation of Scripture, more spiritual discipline, more consistency, etc.

Bluntly:  If life is as you want it to be, then God is pleased with you. If it is not, then God wants you to do differently.

True?

Here’s the rub:  We read in the Scriptures that people of profound faith trusted God and He delivered them from the lion’s den unscathed (Dan. 6:16, Heb. 11:33). We also know from history that other people of profound faith trusted God and the lions tore them to pieces and ate their parts. Both trusted God, both demonstrated faith. God delivered one and let the other die a torturous death.

Was He pleased with the one and displeased with the other?

Prayers for Deliverance (unabridged)

Do you have any idea how many people are praying for you? While you might not have realized it, the body of Christ—your brothers and sisters in the faith—are praying for you, thinking about you, and caring about what concerns you. It is an interesting thing to be prayed for, isn’t it?

Sometimes our Father answers prayer outright, delivers us, and we share a glorious testimony to His provision and answered prayer. Other times, Father answers differently, prayer takes longer to be answered—if at all seemingly—and our requests are swallowed in a flood of challenges and doubts.

Even so, prayer is a discussion between a Believer and the Lord God, and while our prayers are not always answered as we might wish, God listens, considers, and always has our best in mind. In fact, God will even do things that appear incongruous with who He is in answering our prayers.

Do you remember the story of Peter in prison in Acts 12? He was in big trouble! Best guesses said he would not live through the night. Under heavy guard, in a maximum security prison, and about to be called before Herod, Acts 12:5 notes, “...but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church.”

In this instance, God delivered Peter. He was awakened by an angel, his shackles fell off, the prison doors swung open, and Peter walked out a free man. No doubt, many times God chooses to answer prayer and deliver. But sometimes He chooses to answer prayer and not deliver. Is that okay by you?

Two things got my attention as I reviewed this story. First, Peter was guarded by multiple soldiers and he escaped. Later that night, when Herod called for Peter to come before him and he was found missing, it is likely a follow-up command was issued to execute all those responsible for guarding Peter.

Consider that for a moment. Believers pray, God delivers Peter from prison, and multiple people are executed as a result. God is serious when it comes to answering prayer!

In all probability you will not be delivered miraculously from the anxious times that are troubling you. But make no mistake, if God is determined enough to answer prayer that He will kill folks in the process, then He will not be so slack as to not respond to prayer in the first place. Just because you cannot see His hand move against your captors does not mean He is callous in His heart to your request.

And that brings me to the second thing I want to offer for your consideration: Notice that Acts 12:7 says a light shown in the jail cell when the angel appeared. We are told that “God is light and in Him is no darkness.” Further, we are called to “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:5-7).

Do not miss this point: The light shown in the cell before Peter was delivered. While there is no guarantee you will escape the worst of the challenge you are facing, there is no reasonable question about whether or not you have light to walk in with your Heavenly Father, even in your difficulties. While Peter escaped prison, there is no possibility of Father escaping you. He is not trying!

Another thing is for certain: You will never have another opportunity to trust God like the opportunity you face affords to you right now. Don’t waste this experience! Walk in the light! Trust your Father. You may as well fight the good fight rather than simply get run over by circumstance.

Here is an image for you to consider: Peter was awaiting a probable death sentence. But when the angel appeared to him, he was asleep and undressed. In other words, Peter was at rest in the midst of big-time trouble, and you can be as well. It is all in who you know.

Here is my encouragement: Pray for deliverance, but do not look for deliverance. Look to Him instead. If Father delivers you out, great. If Father delivers you through, great. He will deliver.

Walk in the light that is your Father’s constant and abiding presence in you and through you. While you might not like the answer to prayer He comes up with, He is faithful and you will like Him.

Prayers for Deliverance, Part 3

There is a second thing I want to offer for your consideration: Notice that Acts 12:7 says a light shown in the jail cell when the angel appeared. We are told that “God is light and in Him is no darkness.” Further, we are called to “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:5-7). Do not miss this point: The light shown in the cell before Peter was delivered. While there is no guarantee you will escape the worst of the challenge you are facing, there is no reasonable question about whether or not you have light to walk in with your Heavenly Father, even in your difficulties. While Peter escaped prison, there is no possibility of Father escaping you. He is not trying!

Another thing is for certain: You will never have another opportunity to trust God like the opportunity you face affords to you right now. Don’t waste this experience! Walk in the light! Trust your Father. You may as well fight the good fight rather than simply get run over by circumstance.

Here is an image for you to consider: Peter was awaiting a probable death sentence. But when the angel appeared to him, he was asleep and undressed. In other words, Peter was at rest in the midst of big-time trouble, and you can be as well. It is all in who you know.

Here is my encouragement: Pray for deliverance, but do not look for deliverance. Look to Him instead. If Father delivers you out, great. If Father delivers you through, great. He will deliver.

Walk in the light that is your Father’s constant and abiding presence in you and through you. While you might not like the answer to prayer He comes up with, He is faithful and you will like Him.

Prayers for Deliverance, Part 2

Do you remember the story of Peter in prison in Acts 12? He was in big trouble! Best guesses said he would not live through the night. Under heavy guard, in a maximum security prison, and about to be called before Herod, Acts 12:5 notes, “...but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church.”

In this instance, God delivered Peter. He was awakened by an angel, his shackles fell off, the prison doors swung open, and Peter walked out a free man. No doubt, many times God chooses to answer prayer and deliver. But sometimes He chooses to answer prayer and not deliver. Is that okay by you?

Two things got my attention as I reviewed this story. First, Peter was guarded by multiple soldiers and he escaped. Later that night, when Herod called for Peter to come before him and he was found missing, it is likely a follow-up command was issued to execute all those responsible for guarding Peter.

Consider that for a moment. Believers pray, God delivers Peter from prison, and multiple people are executed as a result. God is serious when it comes to answering prayer!

In all probability you will not be delivered miraculously from the anxious times that are troubling you. But make no mistake, if God is determined enough to answer prayer that He will kill folks in the process, then He will not be so slack as to not respond to prayer in the first place.

Just because you cannot see His hand move against your captors does not mean He is callous in His heart to your request.