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Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty’

Asking God’s Help

February 20th, 2016

 

“With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NKJV.

Ask for what will most give God pleasure to provide.

My thoughts today are about, “asking God’s help.”

Asking seems such a simple thing; yet people often seem reluctant to ask for assistance. We prefer the illusion of self-sufficiency. Maybe we think our own efforts – experience, abilities, and resources – should be adequate. I am not sure if it is being too proud to ask or if it is a misguided insistence on self-reliance, trying to take care of ourselves before we “bother God” with our needs. God is never bothered by sincere requests for His help. “He who comes to God must believe . . that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

It is foolish to presume that God can’t provide your needs, or worse yet, that He won’t. Jesus said, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11-12 NIV. Love chooses the practical expression of generosity. Giving finds its greatest joy in providing what is needed, or even most desired. Let God be your first resource rather than your last. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Your Heavenly Father is saddened when you fail to ask Him for what you lack and need. James, the brother of Jesus, framed the problem with words of both counsel and caution. “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:3 NLT. James saw the problem of unanswered prayer as either failure to ask or selfish motives; both are easy to correct. Ask for what you believe will most give God pleasure to provide.

Speaking of common, everyday concerns, Jesus said, “These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Luke 12:30-31 NLT. He expects only the simplest thing of you. All you have to do is ask, “anything according to His will . . and you know you will have what you asked.” 1 John 5:14-15.

Do not be hesitant to ask, but trust His sovereignty and goodness, and then rest content. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to feel free to ask, confident to trust, and grateful to receive.

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A Steadfast Hope

July 2nd, 2015

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Hebrews 6:19 NKJV.

Hope is lost when trust is misplaced.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a steadfast hope.”

I lose things occasionally; well more accurately, I misplace things temporarily. They usually turn up or they are easily replaced and life goes on without them. That is not true when you start losing hope. Hope is lost when trust is misplaced. Past experiences and present circumstances combine to cause a struggle to maintain hope. Losing hope colors everything else about your life, work, and relationships.

Hope can be described as, “expectation of good things to come.” Biblical hope is not puny, neither wistful desire nor wishful thinking; it is powerful. Scripturally, hope is found in the best of company, “There are three things that will endure – faith, hope and love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT. “We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure.” Read Hebrews 6:17-20 NIV. As I study the Bible, I observe three powerful truths about hope.

1) Hope elevates your experience, inspiring dignity even in difficulty. Romans 8:18 NIV. 2) Hope encourages your endurance, reminding you not to give up. Romans 15:4 NIV. 3) Hope empowers your expectations, lifting your eyes beyond the immediate, strengthening your hands with promises and possibilities, and assuring your heart of the miraculous. Romans 4:18-21 NIV.

Luke, a physician and author, recorded the story of, “a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.” Read Luke 13:10 -16. People often endure the worst of things if of brief duration, but that same person can feel overwhelmed by a lesser difficulty when help seems delayed. Progressively, her physical body drained of vitality and strength, yet she was “in the synagogue on the Lord’s Day,” a woman of faith, in the place of faith, among the people of faith. She had not come that day expecting to meet Jesus, but Jesus came to that synagogue to meet her. Your obedience and consecration can cause your schedule to intersect with God’s sovereignty.

The heart of Jesus is clearly expressed in His words, “Should not this woman whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free?” Verse 16 NIV. I love the simplicity of Luke’s four part description, “Jesus saw her . . He called her to Him . . Jesus said to her . . Jesus laid His hands on her . .” The result was predictable. “And instantly she could stand straight.” Your hope can be renewed in the Word of God, at the house of God, with the people of God, and by the power of the Spirit of God.

I have included a link – https://vimeo.com/132153671 – to the expanded teaching I shared at Cathedral of Faith, San Jose, CA. – “Finding Help When Losing Hope.”  Could I ask a favor? If you watch the Video Teaching, would you send a simple reply to this email?

Today, I pray for you that a steadfast hope remains alive in your heart.

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The Miracle and Mystery of Healing

January 29th, 2014

“Prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:15 NLT.

The essential elements of healing are the grace and sovereignty of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the miracle and mystery of healing.”

Few things present more unanswered questions and opinions than healing through prayer and faith. It would be easy to struggle with the questions: if healing occurs, how healing occurs, and why healing occurs, or more commonly, why it doesn’t. The reality is that many of us have more questions than answers in this very real area of spiritual life. Wisdom is not letting answers you don’t have dissuade you from the answer God gives. The Savior that has the power to forgive sins also holds the power to heal. Read Mark 2:1-12 NIV/Isaiah 53:4-6 NKJV.

God’s Word is clear, “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:14-15 NLT.

Is that true? Of course it is. God’s Word says it is, providing many examples of healings in both the Old and New Testament, and through the ministry of Jesus, as well as others. Anyone willing to look honestly into God’s Word will find the promise of healing as well as its successful practice. Across history, and yet today, there are many such testimonies. Whatever else you question, you are not left to wonder if healing is promised in God’s Word. Don’t wait until you understand all of God’s mysteries; simply be available to God’s miraculous power and divine possibilities.

When my Dad was a teenager, my grandmother was diagnosed as, “terminal.” At the invitation of a neighbor, she and my Dad visited a small church in Buffalo, New York, where she was prayed for. Never having been in a church until he was seventeen, he accompanied his mother who was prayed for and miraculously healed that Sunday night, living several decades longer. The Randolph family came to faith through her miraculous healing, her story reaching across generations to our family today, and our children, our grandchildren, and hopefully to their children as well.

Years later as a pastor, married, and with a two-year-old son (that was me), my Dad was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever, severely affecting his heart and leaving him debilitated for six months, requiring constant help for the simplest activities of every day care. Like his mother years earlier, he was prayed for and miraculously healed. Those stories and others wondrously filled my childhood. Some may try to reduce James’ words to a formula to force God to work at their will. Others wrongly assume that unless everyone is healed, then no one actually could be.

Healing is both a mystery and miracle. I confess I do not know how healing happens, nor why healing does not always occur for the most desperately needy or apparently most deserving. But unanswered questions must not dismiss the answer given in God’s Word. The Bible is true; “Prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:15 NLT.

Of this be certain, healing is the Lord’s doing. Prayer and faith – your own or another’s – are significant components to the possibility of healing, but the absolutely essential elements of healing are the grace and sovereignty of God. You can neither make healing apply as you wish, nor should you dismiss healing as a wondrous possibility for your life.

My prayer for you today is: believe in and expect the power of God every day.

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Thriving or Surviving?

September 22nd, 2010

“He grew up like a root out of dry ground.” Isaiah 53:2

You can thrive when you add optimism born of trust in God’s character and sovereignty.”

My thoughts today ask, “thriving or surviving?”

I don’t know a lot about growing things, but I know that dry ground is not the best place for a plant to thrive. Sometimes even survival is questionable. Of all the descriptions of Jesus, “a root out of dry ground,” does not sound the most promising. So you think that you have it tough sometimes? That people say hurtful things? That someone treated you unfairly and said some things about you that weren’t true?

Here’s how one writer chose to explain the description of Jesus in today’s verse: “Tough circumstances? God dressed up in a man’s body, living among those who wanted to kill Him simply because He wanted to save them.” Then sometimes you think that you have it tough? The secret of your victory in such challenging times is the same as Jesus’ – take time for prayer and fellowship with the Father to keep an eternal focus and receive renewed strength.

Perseverance is good, but that alone is not enough. Endurance helps you survive the moment by toughing it out. Surviving is good; thriving is great! You can thrive when you add optimism born of trust in God’s character and sovereignty to your perseverance. The Bible’s idea of endurance and perseverance is a patient trust that doesn’t just live through a difficulty, but learns and grows as a result of it. Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NLT.

Jesus kept His sense of purpose by joyfully doing the will of His Father, keeping His focus clear about what He was doing and why He was doing so. In tough times, you can be tempted to take your eyes off your goals, allowing distraction and discouragement by the difficulties instead of anticipating the possibilities. Pastor Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, is known to say, “Tough times never last; tough people do!” Such times produce strength of character and purity of heart – the very things that God blesses. See Romans 8:18 NIV.

Look inside, and you may throw a pity party. Look down, and you could want to give up. Look around, and you might grow more discouraged. Look up, and you will see the Reason to be strong. The Bible urges that you “run with endurance the race God has set before you. You do this by keeping your eyes on Jesus, on whom your faith depends from start to finish . . think about all He endured . . because of the joy He knew would be His afterward.” Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you value character, and flourish even in dry ground.

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