I attended church service today and the Pastor shared a story that speaks to God’s love and how we should share His love with others.
A friend of the pastor’s visited the countryside in Ghana where he was on assignment at a government hospital. He noticed from his office window that daily the sick passed the government hospital to travel on foot to the missionary hospital which was many miles away.
He watched people take the trek to the missionary hospital for a week and finally asked his friend why they chose the missionary hospital instead of the government hospital that was better equipped.
His friend replied that the medicine is the same. The people chose the missionary hospital because the hands were different.
In effect, they felt the hands of God upon them in every nook and cranny throughout the missionary hospital. They knew they were well cared for because God was present. The government hospital was medically far superior, but the atmosphere in the hospital was sterile and loveless.
My question is – are your hands different? How do people see you as a Christian? Do they feel the love of God emanating from you? Are you warm and welcoming, or cold and remote? Do you reflect God in your actions? Do you love as God loves you? Do you reflect Christ’s love, compassion, and strength in your convictions, or do you represent the emptiness of a sterile government hospital?
Scriptures and scripture images (Biblestudytools.com)
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.” James 5:13 NIV
Dissecting the Scripture
When we suffer hardships, we are afflicted by our circumstances. Affliction is broad and covers all trials, circumstances, and situations. The answer to affliction is prayer.
Biblically, happiness is the state of joy, the absence of anxiety and fear that tears at your soul. Singing praise is a form of thanking God. Praise is appropriate when you are happy, not fearful, anxious or depressed. Praise is a state of joy, not earthy joy, but joy in your soul. Praise is also appropriate when you are struggling. In those moments it is important to become laser focused on something that is working in your life no matter how small or transitory. When you praise God for that small thing, He offers a place of calmness and peace.
Prayer and praise are forms of connection to peace. We find peace when we are connected to our Lord. God’s ears are always inclined to our cries, our shouts of praise, and joy. Our relationship with Him can overcome the afflictions of this world if we pray. We must focus on Him and not our circumstances to allow His peace to enter our souls, where we can rest in the comfort of His arms.
“pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 https://bible.com/bible/59/1th.5.17-18.ESV
Our Lord is all truth and the truth is, God loves us and is in the center of our prayers and our praise. He is at the center of our life. Once we accept His place in our lives and we accept being dependent upon Him, our life begins to change and we begin to pray and praise as part of who we are, children of God. Praise God for being our father.
To quote John McArthur (biblereasons.com): “The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties.”
The only way we can reach God is through prayer, praise and worship. And, when we do so, we find God in the center of our lives orchestrating our path according to His will and His way. The path will not be smooth, but more like a dirt road with crooks, crannies, pot holes and mounds. However, with GOD at the center we can continue to move forward. Prayer and praise are the resources we need to strengthen our relationship with the Lord and rely on His truth that will set us free.
Image: KCIS 630 Radio, Google Images; Biblestudytools.com
A friend posted this sermon on FB. This makes you say, hum. We have heard this story throughout our lives, we know this story, and it may be time to hear it again, for many, it is time to believe it and move forward in the divine providence of God, meaning the protective care of God. (Online, dictionary.com)
Cain killed Abel not because Abel wronged him or fought with him but, it was because Cain couldn’t stand the FAVOUR OF GOD on Abel’s life.
Sometimes you may wonder why people talk behind your back, why they hate you, why they do the things they do to you. It’s not that you have a problem, it’s because they can’t stand the favour of God on your life.
That’s why you don’t need to stress yourself over people who are determined to frustrate or misunderstand you. You have to understand that not everyone will like you but everyone shall witness that you are favoured by the Lord.
Stand firm in God and what you believe in and no one will shake you.
We know so many partial scriptures and tend to recite them in daily conversations, but part is never the whole. Let’s dig deeper into Psalm 118.
We will begin with Verse 1, “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, because His mercy endures forever.” Psalms 118:1 MEV https://bible.com Each morning we are to give thanks, why, because the Lord’s mercy endures forever. That means everyday until the end of time.
There is so much to unpack in this scripture, it would become a thesis, so let’s focus on verses 1, 24, 27, 28, and 29 today.
“This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Palm 1818:24. It is the day the Lord has made and, yes – we are to rejoice in it. But as we read further we find that Paul is encouraging Christ’s followers to thank God for this day and rejoice in it. You see it doesn’t matter what you have lived through. It doesn’t matter who you were before Christ entered into your life. It doesn’t matter the crowd you followed, all that matters is that you are now a child of God and should be thankful for all of His blessings.
Verse 27 stresses that God is Lord, and He has given us “light”. Christ is the light. His light is nestled inside us and radiates out to those around us. The light much like a beacon, is a guiding light drawing in the lost bringing them closer to our Lord. They poise the question, what is it about you that makes you different? Our acts should represent the same characteristics as Christ. Our behavior should emulate His. Our language and disposition should reflect what we are told in Galatians 6. We should walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. We should demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in our walk, and it begins with recognition of the new day as a gift from God.
Being like means that on dismal days, do we present a grey attitude or do we rejoice in the day? This day too was created by our Lord and we should rejoice. Often, I find myself complaining and have to reflect restructure my thinking to rejoice in the day, Why? It is simple, He loves me, woke me up, and gave me new mercies. I should be glad in it and rejoice. My focus should be on the things above and not on the earth which is full of sin. If I reflect on the things of this earth, it changes my inner atmosphere by giving over to the present evils.
When we look at the news, do we grumble and sink into the malaise of the day, or do we focus on the Lord? Do we get lost in the thoughts of negativity, or do we, instead, rejoice in the fact that no matter what is going on around us, our Lord is still King and remains on the throne? Do we praise Him for who He is, or cower down to the evil, consumed by what we see, experience, or feel?
Verses 28 and 29 refocuses our thoughts on our purpose. We are to continually give praise and thanks for the day, knowing that in the best of moments and the bleakest, God is still in control.
“You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” Psalms 118:28-29 MEV https://bible.com
When digging deeper we see we are blessed to awake to a new day. We are to give thanks, rejoice, and be glad (grateful). We are to recognize who God is in our life and behave in a way pleasing to Him. We are to look for God in all things and reflect on them and not what we lies before us. The Lord is the lamp that guides us through this life. We are nestled in His love and His mercy endures forever.
You pray and pray and pray, and God blessed you within His Will. Did He bestow a blessing that mirrored your prayer?
My husband and I lived in the Midwest for ten years. I wanted to move back to the West Coast, meaning Los Angeles. I prayed without ceasing, with self as the center point. I wanted to move back to L.A..
My pray was not one that reflected dependence upon God. I did not ask what His Will was for me, instead I told Him what I wanted, not thinking about His big picture for my life and where I was best suited to accomplish His work.
The place I would accomplish His work was not Los Angeles, as I desired. It was Oakland, a place I refused to move to earlier in life. I did not care for the Bay Area. My husband had been offered a job in the Bay 10 years earlier. He was also offered an opportunity in Kansas where we moved. I would do anything to avoid the Bay.
Looking back, God planted me in Kansas to prepare me for the position as administrator at a charter school in, of all places, Oakland, Ca. Life was not easy in Kansas. We were in a recession and our jobs did not materialize as planned and offered. The state froze government jobs, i.e., the University of Kansas. I scrambled for employment and ended up taking two part time positions and a quarter coordinator position, yes that is equal to a full time plus job. We were also raising three sons who needed our attention. The jobs kept me going, made ends meet even though I was a college graduate and felt under paid with little to do with my degrees. Crazy right? Amazingly to the untrained eye, these experiences did not mount up to the reality. It turned out to be my training time in the desert. Each position offered experience in some component needed to succeed in my next task God was preparing me to undertake.This season was actually a blessing and also served to advance my husbands career.
All to often we can not see the forest for the trees. The trees are in our line of scope. Similarly, our prayers are in our line of scope. The forest is where God chooses to plant us to acquire the skills and knowledge to accomplish His work. The next time you feel you are in the wrong place, take time to recognize God has you where He wants you for that period in time. We are His apprentices. Apprenticeships often feel demeaning, without purpose or cause. But, within the context of doing things you feel require little of your abilities are the nuggets, the diamonds, that once connected prepare you for your next step.
I like the NLT version of Isaiah 55:8-9 because the message is clear –
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.55.8-9.NLT
God chooses us and prepares us to do His work, His Will. In the case of Paul, (I am not implying any of us are Paul’s in the truest sense), we are God’s ambassadors on earth, sent here to accomplish His Will.
In the article, The Preparation of Paul, the writer shares: “Paul said that when Christ called him, he did not go to Jerusalem to receive instruction from the apostles. Rather, he retired into Arabia for a time and not until three years later did he go to Jerusalem… It has often been remarked that Paul clearly implied that he spent three years being taught by Jesus Himself (1:12), either directly or (perhaps more likely) through the study of the Word. Thus, like the other apostles, Paul studied with Christ for three years before beginning his ministry (compare Acts 1:21). Ligonier.org. March 19, 1992.
Paul spent three years preparing for his mission, career if you will, before God placed him in the role.
David is also a good example of how God applies His Will.
David did not become King over night. David was the youngest, least hardy and not handsome like his brothers. His father taught him a skill because there was little hope of him becoming anything more. But it was precisely the skill, being a good sheppard, that was needed for him to become a man of God and a great king.
Did you know that God sent Samuel to tell David that he would be king when he was just 15 years old? At that time, David was just a shepherd boy who was always overlooked by his older brothers. But God had a plan for David’s life, it just took a while for it to happen. David had to be patient and trust that God would do what he promised. David had to run away from King Saul who hated David. When King Saul died, David was finally made king. In total, David had to wait 22 years to be the king of all of Israel! Have you ever had to wait for something that you really wanted? If you have, you know how hard it is to be patient. But, maybe you’ve only had to wait a few days or a week…maybe a month. David had to wait a lot longer than that. So kids, here’s the lesson. Sometimes God will make us wait. He may not answer every prayer just how we want or he might take longer to answer than we like. But, we can trust God’s timing because he’s God and he knows what he’s doing. His timing is always perfect. Be patient! (David Becomes King. Pursuegodkids.org)
When David was a teenager, he was anointed as the next king of Israel. It was then that he faced Goliath, was banished by Saul, hid in the desert, lived on the run, forced out of the nation, and fought many battles. It was nearly 15 years between the time that he was anointed king and actually became king. He was tested, just like Joseph, so that God could convert him from a shepherd into a king. (Quota.org Gert Britz)
Paul and David are great examples of how God prepares us to accomplish His Will. The Bible is our manual, our guidebook. If God trained them, placed them in desperate situations, sent them places he would not have chosen on their own, why would it be any different for us today?
God also chose women to accomplish His Will, in a time when women were second class citizens if you will. He chooses the unlikely so the world will know it is not our doing. In fact, the vast majority of the hero’s and heroines throughout history were ordinary individuals who God planted a seed in before they were born. What is the proof, read Jeremiah 1:5 where he penned God’s words, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
We should always dig deeper when we are in situations that feel leads no where, or in a direction not of our choosing. There are hidden gems, lessons, skills, knowledge and wisdom that is being imparted in those moments, times, seasons, and years.
Again, our time is not His time, nor our thoughts His. We are His and He has plans for our future. Jeremiah 29:11 poignantly states:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” https://jeremiah.bible/jeremiah-29-11
I wrote this post days ago and my Pastor’s Daily Devotional focuses on this topic. Amazingly, we both spiritually matured in, that’s right, Oakland, Ca.