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Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

I love the Psalms. They are written records of individuals pouring their heart out to God. Occasionally I find phrases that express more clearly than I have been able to, the cries and yearnings of my own heart and soul. They give me specific words that I can use myself as I pray.

One such verse is Psalm 74:11; “Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of you garment and destroy them”.

Although I don’t have people I want destroyed, I have had situations I wanted to see destroyed. The image of God standing with His hand tucked in the folds of His robe, knowing it could come out at any moment, was a helpful image to have in mind as I prayed.

It was especially cool to see it finally come out. And now having seen it, I can pray another verse; but now with more feeling and meaning than ever before. It is so simple but it says so much. Psalm 118:7; “The Lord is with me; he is my helper”.

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Faith Knows

What is it that you do for a living or otherwise invest your life in? You do it day in and day out. You know it inside and out. You don’t hope you can do it, you know you can do it. You know how to keep things running smooth. You know what to do when they don’t. You know what to do to get things back on track. It doesn’t throw you. It doesn’t cause you to doubt whether or not you know what your doing . . . you know.

Faith is like that. Faith is not hoping; faith knows. Can you imagine someone who is unfamiliar with what you do coming in and trying to do what you do? They would be hoping they could do it – and in time maybe they could – but you already know.

In Mark 11 Jesus said this to His disciples; “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I’ve always looked at this passage as pressure on me to believe. I must huff and puff to keep my believing believing. But that is not it at all. Faith is knowing. It isn’t hoping . . . and if you can keep your hoping going it will work; it is just simply knowing.

A surgeon knows how to remove a kidney. He doesn’t hope he can do it. He knows. He not only knows he can do it, he knows what to do if things go wrong in the process. He knows how to get things back on track. He knows backwards and forwards what to do. He has faith that he can do it.

Until our faith can have this kind of knowing behind it, it is not faith. – hope maybe, but not faith. Hope is more easily thrown when things don’t go so well. Hope is up and down; but faith knows. Faith knows that no matter what, the matter will be seen through. Faith is sure.

Heb 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith knows.

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In Acts 19 Paul decides to go to Jerusalem and in passing he adds, “I must visit Rome also”. I have learned one thing about Paul; he does what he says he will do. It takes him 5 months, but he eventually ends up in Jerusalem. And little did he know when he mentioned visiting Rome that he would arrive there in chains, but again, in another 2 ½ years, he finally arrives in Rome.

Paul had just finished a meeting with the leaders of the church at Ephesus. The ship he caught had a layover in Tyre. I like what Luke says; “Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them for seven days”. It made me realize . . . who we look up when we go out of town, says a lot about us. In another town, they “stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven”. What a cool reunion that must have been.

So, Paul is now on a ship heading for Rome. While in a severe storm, he hears these words, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar”. How often do the words we hear from God go so contrary to the situation we are in.

The next line is a little hard to write. “Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” It is so like life to have to run aground a while before seeing what God said we would see; and the test of faith while we are run aground to still believe what He said.

Paul does reach Rome, and “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ”.

How cool that God gave him a period of time ‘without hindrance’. Everywhere he went, he tried to convince people to believe that Jesus was the One they were looking for. Some believed and some didn’t. Those that didn’t caused him a lot of trouble. God finally gave him a break from that trouble, and for a while he enjoyed a time ‘without hindrance’.

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When the Lord told Abraham that He would take him to a new land and that he would have a son, was Abraham to pray for it to happen when it seemed like it wasn’t going to, or was it for him pray that his faith – his believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? When Sarah became impatient and tried to help God out, did it help?

When God told Moses that He was going to deliver Israel from Egypt and take them to the promised land, was it for Moses and the children of Israel to pray for it to happen, or was it for them to pray that their faith – their believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? When they were caught between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, was God after their praying or their believing?

When God told Joseph that he would rule over his family, was it for him to pray for when he was sitting alone in prison, or was it for him to pray that his faith – his believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? Did he help matters when he took things into his own hands by asking the two prisoners to put in a good word for him?

When God anointed David to be king, was it for him to pray that the Lord would make it happen, or was it for him to pray that his faith – his believing – would stay in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looked so bleak? David surpassed them all. He could have taken things into his own hands several times to help God move things along, but he didn’t. His trust was in God to do what He said He would do.

In all cases, God in His timing, in spite of what these men did to ‘help God along’ (which in no case actually helped), did what He said He would do. And so these thoughts have changed the way I pray. I no longer pray for the Lord to provide because He told me early on that before it was too late He would, and He has. My praying now is that my faith – my believing – would remain in tack when the fulfillment of that promise looks bleak.

It says of the Israelites when they were backed against the Red Sea, that they were ‘terrified’. Can you imagine if some of them would have nudged the one standing beside them and said, ‘Watch this; this is going to be cool.’; or when Jesus was standing in front of Lazarus’ tomb; none of the disciples believed. Can you imagine if just one would have nudged a few of the others and said; ‘Watch this, this is going to be cool’. Can we, when our situation looks so bleak, believe enough to say, ‘Watch this; this is going to be cool’? I believe it would please God if we could.

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Does it ever seem like the more you pray, the worse things get?  It does to me.  Sometimes I can relate to how the disciples must have felt when in their storm they heard these words; “Where is your faith?”

Recently I read about another storm that Paul was in.  I saw something I had never noticed before.  Paul’s storm didn’t let up; in fact it got worse.  But there was never anything said about ‘his’ lack of faith.  I wondered why the difference.

If you look closely at both stories, it wasn’t so much about faith to calm the storm; as it was about faith to believe they would be okay in it.  In Paul’s story, even though the storm kept getting worse, he believed he was going to be okay. 

The disciples gave up before they ever started.  Luke describes it this way; “A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.  The disciples went and woke Him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown’.”

Paul didn’t give up quite that easy.  Listen to how his situation went down. Addressing a crew that has given up hope, he says, “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and who I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar: and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.  Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

Paul’s faith didn’t calm the storm; but it did lead to a calming of all who were in it.  Even though the storm got worse – even though it caused them to ‘run aground on some island’, Paul’s faith held up.

It is natural to pray that the Lord would calm our storms.  Sometimes He does.  Paul was probably praying for the Lord to calm his storm when He heard the angel speak.  There is a phrase in there that I like; “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me”.  We can bear a lot when He stands beside us. 

I thought too that had Paul’s storm let up, he would have missed the island of Malta.  Sometimes when we pray and our storms continue to get worse, it may be that God wants to run us aground somewhere for some reason beyond what we have the ability to see.

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Personally, I would much rather go around them. Wouldn’t we all? But then there is this thing called ‘life’. Every where I turn lately, there seems to be . . . ‘life’. There is good, but bad just seems to not be willing to let go – to not get out of the way.

Paul’s comment to the believers in Antioch struck me. Not just that we must go ‘through’ hardships, but that we must go through them ‘to enter the kingdom of God’. I like the part of God’s kingdom that is free of hardships. They are like front door blessings – blessings that everybody sees and associates as ‘God’s blessings’. But Paul is talking about another kind of blessing – another part of the kingdom of God that is not seen. They are more like ‘back door’ blessings.

These blessings and part of the kingdom of God are found when we, with the help of God, go through our hardships. It is like a trailer I was pulling one time. One of the 4 wheels was a little too low on grease and burned up. The wheel was still there – it endured the haul – but the hub was burned out. The other 3, with the right amount of grease, didn’t even get warm.

It is possible in our hardships to enter the kingdom of God and relatively speaking, not even get warm. (Well maybe a little) But that is what Paul is referring to; and in chapter 16 he demonstrates it. Amidst all the good that happened in the chapter, he also experiences the bad of being thrown in prison. He was put in the inner cell and his feet were fastened with stocks. (Hardships are like that; they can lock you up.)

But through prayer, Paul entered the kingdom of God. Before his hub got hot he added the grease of prayer. He wrestled with God until he gained God’s perspective. Once he did, he was able to sing. Afterwards, the doors and chains that locked him up opened and fell off.

The Lord may not always cause the doors and chains of our lives to open and fall off as He did with Paul; but, at a minimum, He can keep our hub from burning up. As I am learning about most things lately, it is not just all or none; we can enter a little, or a little more, or a lot. We can keep from burning up. We can keep from getting warm. In some cases . . . we can enter enough to sing.

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The economy has changed our way of living. We do less and have less than we did when times were good, but somehow we lack nothing and are richer than we ever have been. Life on the edge can be exciting in more ways than one. It is a great place from which to see God do some pretty cool stuff, but occasionally I still wish we were a little further away from the edge.

A week or so ago as I approached my praying time, a part of me wanted to pray for the Lord to provide our needs. The more I thought about it, they were really our wants; as legitimate as they were, they were still wants. I had prayed for them before (hoping to get a little further away from the edge) but God has always chosen instead to ‘dole’ out His provision. So instead, I asked the Lord for whatever He would gladly give.

I recently started a jail ministry with a friend of mine who has been doing it for years. The last couple of weeks the Lord has blessed me with an ability to express verbally, what I have only before been able to express in writing. I have sensed His help as never before. Last night, as the evening seemed to be going very well, at the end, 3 guys decided they wanted to be a Christian. I believe the Lord gladly gave us last night.

Lately as I have prayed, overall, instead of praying for our need/wants, I have had the sense that nothing is too hard for Him. If He wanted to lift us away from the edge He could. The day that I was tempted to pray for it and didn’t, I later had this thought about it. I had wanted to pray for things that I might be secure. Later that day I remembered, ‘I have Him who owns all things’.

It is one thing for us guys to live on the edge. We can handle it. But for the sake of a wife and family, we desire for them the security they long for. There is that ying and yang—trusting and hoping that we can’t completely shake. We are all learning. We are all so much further along in trusting than we ever were. My wife amazes me sometimes. Sometimes she is the strong one.

We received a card a couple of days ago that will likely settle next to one we have had on display now for about 3 years. The cover of the 3 year old card reads: ‘When God closes one door, He opens another’. Inside is the tagline, ‘But it’s hell in the hallway’.

The one we just got is as if God Himself wrote just for us. On the cover . . .
The source of your strength is His strength.
The focus of your faith is His faithfulness.
The source of your security is His everlasting love.
Inside . . .
Gen. 18:4 Is anything too hard for the Lord?
and . . .
The provision for the need you face will be met through His incredible resources.

His resources are truly endless. I believe He delights to give to those who trust Him.

Thanks Deb for the card.

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