Power: How important is it, after the storm, Part 2

Photo By SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

After the storm, I pray that all will have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise.  Like many of you, I watched the news and read about the destruction and devastation caused by Super storm Sandy throughout the eastern coast, which impacted some twenty-three states.  Sandy has been classified as an unprecedented storm by those who have covered storms in the past and weather related news for many years.

As I watched and prayed, I was saddened because many will write it off as “Mother Nature” doing her thing…it’s just something that happens.   I am certainly thankful for man’s giftedness to provide a scientific explanation of how storms are formed, to track them, and give warning to prepare and evacuate, if necessary. However, I believe preparation should go beyond the physical.  When the warning to prepare is given, it’s the perfect time to prepare spiritually— where are you in your relationship with God? Pray. Repent. Ask for forgiveness. Do you even believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? What if there’s a real heaven and hell, where do you want to spend eternity if you die in the storm? Are you ready to go, if you must? Ask God to save you, rescue your life to fulfill your life purpose if you know your heart is wicked and evil. This is the essence of spiritual preparation.

While systems are in place to track and trace a storm, no man can stop it! No one can change the course of its winds powerful enough to uproot huge trees, or stop the fifty-foot waves and floodwaters from breaking through dams and levees.  Storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes should help us put life and power in perspective.  Only God can speak to the winds and waves and they obey His voice. Psalm 107:29, “He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.” Mark 4:35-41, records this unprecedented power that Jesus demonstrated, which gripped the attention of the disciples.

Knowing this is reason enough to give greater consideration to how important is man’s power and authority in comparison to God as being all-powerful and all-knowing.  It’s something about being vulnerable or in a life or death situation that raises our awareness to what matters most.  Usually it is in times of disaster and tragedies that we personally and as a nation realize pain is not prejudice, and death does not discriminate.

Consequently, my prayer is always that people ponder and give deeper thought to the spiritual implications or supernatural aspect of storms that sends a message about power and authority. A storm reminds us of our human frailty, our vulnerability, and speaks to the power and authority that’s totally out of man’s control.   Storms should get our attention. They should make us to search within, change our actions and attitudes, look at life differently—its sacredness. After the storm, we should seize the opportunity to regroup and reevaluate our priorities.  Those greatly impacted by a storm should forever look at life differently; it should never be taken for granted, if you survived the storm or even if you lost loved ones in the storm.

Kurt Wilberding, a fashion and street photographer, snapped this Instagram photo in lower Manhattan, after Superstorm Sandy made its way through New York City.

The destruction and devastation our fellow Americans are experiencing as a result of Sandy should remind us all of what matters most—love for one another, promote justice for all, and to walk humbly with our God.

Once again, disaster reminds us that division is the greatest downfall of a nation that “supposedly” believes in democracy.  But,, even after the storm, there is hope.  The LORD God always keeps His promise amid the destruction, devastation and sorrow for the lives lost.  After the storm, I pray that all will make the decision to have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise. You are not alone.

Praying for peace after the storm,

On suffering, still…

I pulled this from Our Daily Bread, and thought about the timeliness of it since I just posted on the subject of suffering Saturday …

 Heman’s Honesty

Psalm 88

 My soul is full of troubles. —Ps. 88:3

 David Roper writes:

             I marvel at Heman, the poet who wrote Psalm 88.  His lot in life was unrelieved distress.  “My soul is full of troubles,” he lamented (v.3).  He was fed up with suffering!

            Heman looked back and remembered poor health and misfortune.  He looked around and saw adversity and abandonment.  He looked up and found no solace.  “I am distraught,” he complained (v.15).  He was “adrift (vv.7, 15), and “cast off” (v.14).  He could see no light at the end of the tunnel; no resolution of his sorrow.

            Heman’s honesty warms my soul.  Christians who never struggle confuse me.  There’s balance, of course: No one wants to be around those who babble on all day about their troubles, but it does my heart good to know that someone else has struggled.

            Yet, there’s more to Heman than mere candor.  He also had a stubborn, intractable faith.  Despite his many problems, he clung to God and cried out to Him “day and night” vv.1, 9, 13).  He didn’t stop praying.  He didn’t give up.  And even though he didn’t sense it at the time, Heman acknowledged God’s lovingkindness, faithfulness, and righteousness (vv.11-12).

            I like folks like Heman.  They strengthen my grip on God and remind me never stop prayer.

 THOUGHT:  Prayer is the soil in which hope grows best.

 

“Hands-On Faith Project”

“The LORD said, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  —Job 1:8

I know I’m not the only one that has felt like God extended an invitation to Satan to consider you as a “Hands-On Faith Project.”

It’s true there are some church folks that would boast of being so highly recommended by God…they thrive on accolades, honorable mention and praise.  Really now?  Who in their right mind would like to be handed over to the adversary so God could prove a point—put you on display for all to see, or make an example of you for generations?  Yet this is basically what God did to Job—granted Satan permission to wreak havoc in Job’s life.  However, before I go any further, God knew the outcome, and did not give Satan full control (2:6).

Job’s ordeal was an extreme test of faith.  The best man on earth (according to God Himself) suffered the worst calamity.  Sooner or later we all find ourselves in a position “somewhat” like Job’s. Our world seems to crumble. Nothing makes sense any more. I admit I’ve gone through some stuff in life; God seemed distant and silent. During these times of great crises, we are put on trial. 

The book of Job records every step in the trial process with unflinching honesty.  Job’s life stands as an example to every person who must go through great suffering.  But, God is faithful, and you will receive double for your trouble.

In my study of Job’s account, I also learned that, like Job, we have a tendency to believe that we shouldn’t go through anything simply because we’re God’s servants, living a Christian lifestyle, doing all the right things, and that we have a right to complain (3:20-26). Consequently, when troubles come our way, first we express despair. In our despair we wish we were never born.

Secondly, like Job, we are apt to defend ourselves against the opinions and often misguided counsel of others. We feel we don’t deserve to suffer…or the trials and troubles we’re experiencing are incompatible based on our good service rendered.  Our emotional state becomes so unstable that we feel we must continue to defend our cause, and we even get an attitude.  We feel that God has betrayed us, and even the people that we considered our friends. What makes the situation more frustrating is when family and friends are convinced that we are guilty of “something” and that God is punishing us.

Finally, someone like Elihu comes on the scene to put things in proper perspective—I call it God’s perspective.  Elihu recognizes Job’s arrogance and bitterness. Elihu has no agenda other than to speak the truth from God’s perspective. He basically tells Job that God is sovereign—He does not answer to you, or anyone else. He is God!  He is a just God; He is a great God…consider nature. No one can force God’s hand, or tell Him what to do. Elihu challenges Job’s thinking, to change his attitude and be patient (36:16-21).  This is also noteworthy: Elihu asserts that God uses suffering for good (36:1-15).  Last bit of advice Elihu gives Job is to stand in awe of God and show Him reverence.

Sometimes, we have to be reminded.  The blessings that God bestows upon us are not an entitlement. We must be careful to always remember that no matter what God allows to happen in our lives, He will always work it for our good, and for His purpose.  Yes, Job complained; he questioned God’s sovereignty in view of his own uprightness and integrity.  But when the LORD confronted Job with questions about His sovereignty, it humbled Job. It opened Job’s eyes.  Job put things in proper perspective—repented and confessed that he knew nothing, and was insignificant in comparison to God’s wisdom and power.  After Job recognized his proper position and got things in proper perspective, God restored his fortunes, and gave him twice as much as he had before.

So if you feel that God has extended an invitation to Satan to consider you as a “Hands-On Faith Project”, rest assured that God is sovereign. He’s all-knowing; all-powerful.  He knows what He’s doing and there’s a reason for it. And there will be a reward as well, if you let Him be God, trust Him and view your situation from His perspective. After all, He makes the recommendation for His “hands-on faith project.”

Living by Faith: Easy?

Living by faith is not as easy as many would have you to think. When we read and study the Bible, we find that it was not easy for Abraham until he had an undeniable experience that proved to him that God keeps His promises.  It was not easy for David. He penned his way through the troubles of life.  He wrote over and over in powerful poems of praise and worship, some of the most beautiful ever written.  In some he asked the real life questions, experienced the real life struggles, voiced his disappointment and expressed his discouragement.  It was not easy for the disciples.  They were called by the Master but afterward uncertain of their decision to give up everything to follow him. After his death, they felt alone and afraid not knowing what to expect even after Jesus had tried to prepare them.  As a matter of fact, it was not easy for Jesus.  He had his share of troubles. His family didn’t believe in him. He was under constant attack from the religious leaders. He was even betraying by those closest to him.  He was tempted in his humanity, and relied totally on his Father to strengthen him through prayer and obedience.  

However, the most important thing noteworthy in these “faith walking characters is consistency. They were consistent their belief that no matter how great the struggle, or the trouble, the Father’s will and purpose were more important, and that He would bring His purpose to pass.  In the case of the disciples, Jesus himself set an example of being consistent in looking to the Father, and doing what the Father told him to do and say (John 14:24). 

If living by faith was so easy, there would be no need for us to put our “trust” in the Lord.  Truth is there’s no magical formula to make our troubles disappear, even after long nights of crying out to the Lord.  Although He promises never to leave us or forsake us; and that He will deliver us out of all our troubles and afflictions, the truth is that He does it according to His set time.  Therefore, until His purposes for allowing the trouble, or until His working all things out in the background, according to His good pleasure,  is complete, we have to live through it, “believing” that He will come through…things will work together for the good…And until then we must say as David: “In you O LORD, I have taken refuge…; be my rock of refuge. In you O Lord do I put my trust.” Until then we must continue saying as Jesus did, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours.”  This equates to living by faith, confident that no matter what life brings, the purposes of God shall prevail and I must make the decision to trust Him at all cost. And as He reveals His character in the midst of our experiences, we are empowered to trust Him more and more.

He understands that in our frailty, living by faith is not easy. Yet, it is through our confidence and trust in His power that He commands us to do so. “For without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Consequently, my confidence in Him and wanting to please Him, I yield myself, which is the hardest part, so that living by faith is easy.