Christianity 201

July 14, 2018

The Purpose of Patience

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Joanna Pierce writes for the blog of Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Bloomington, Illinois. This is her second time appearing here at C201. As with our last visit, the scriptures are embedded within the post as links. The links take you to a KJV version of the verses, but once there, you have an option to switch over to two Amplified Bible texts.

Patience is a Big Part of Your Journey

Endurance and Patience

Jesus encouraged the disciples to endure until the end to see their salvation (Matthew 10:22, 24:12–13). But, what did He mean? Endure means to suffer patiently, or to last. So, what’s patience? Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Our salvation journey has a starting place and then continues until we reach Heaven. There’s a gate we enter and a way we follow once we start on our journey with God (Matthew 7:13–14). Patience makes up for a lot of our way!

Necessary for Salvation

How much is patience critical to our salvation experience? Is it as importance as repentance and baptism? Scripture tells us to add to our faith virtue, then knowledge, then temperance, then patience, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, and lastly, charity (II Peter 1:5–9). If we don’t have patience, we’ll be unfruitful in God’s Kingdom; we’re called to bear fruit! If we lack all of these things, we’ll be blind and forget we’ve been purged from our sins. When this occurs, there’s a strong likelihood we’ll follow false truth or be bound by condemnation—all because we’re missing patience in our life.

It is through our trials and tribulations will our patience flourish. It builds experience in us which leads to hope (Romans 5:3–5). We are called to glory in our tribulations and how it aids our spiritual development.

3 Men Who Demonstrated Patience

Abraham

Abraham began his life in an idolatrous society, was childless, and God called him to leave everything he knew and follow Him. Because he believed in God, it was credited to him as righteousness. After given the promise of a child and being the father of all nations, he waits 25 long years. Then, 12–13 years after the birth of Isaac, he’s instructed to sacrifice his son. What a journey of trials!

But, Abraham had learned through every trial to stand on the promises of the Word of God. He knew at the moment of sacrifice, God would raise up his son (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham is our example of a person who waited, endured tribulation, and struggled to develop patience in his life. We must learn to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him no matter how long it takes and no matter what He tells us to do (Psalms 37:1–7).

Joseph

At the age of 17, God gave Joseph a dream of his future. From that moment on, he faced trial after trial. He was cast into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, accused of rape and thrown into prison, and left to abide there, forgotten for years. However, through these experiences God was grooming Joseph into a vessel who could glorify Him.

At times, Joseph may have struggled to see God’s purpose in patience because he was in the midst of a 20-year long trial. But, at age 37, he winds up in the second most powerful seat in all of Egypt and it all becomes crystal clear. God never promised we’d have an easy life; our promise is that we will see a lot of trouble. But, God has also promised to give strength to the weary if we wait upon Him and not give up (Isaiah 40:28–31).

David

David was 12 years old when the most powerful prophet in Israel anoints him with oil as the future king. Even with this promise, David faces trial after trial in his life. He fights a giant, spends most of his reign running for his life from the murderous Saul, commits adultery and devises a plot to kill the woman’s husband, numbers Israel and causes the death of 70,000 people in the process, and the list goes on and on.

At the death of his child, the product of his adulterous relationship, David still gets up and goes to the house of the Lord to worship. In his trials (and mistakes) David was in the process of learning patience. God was shaping him into being a man after His own heart.

Purpose of Patience

Every trial we experience is for our good (Romans 8:28); it’s working patience in us! Scripture tells us we need patience to complete the will of God (Hebrews 10:36). Ultimately, we sill be saved if we have patience (Luke 21:19)—patience is part of the way, not the gate to Heaven.

As in the examples of Abraham, Joseph, and David, we are put through trials so our lives can bring God glory (I Peter 1:3–7). What an example we can show to others of God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and transformative power. What God can do in us can be done in someone else!

God pushes patience so we will have 1) reduced stress, 2) fewer times we hurt others, 3) more joy, and 4) help to keep us on our journey with Him. We need to allow patience to have its perfect work in us (James 1:2–4). It’s all to get us ready (and patient) for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (James 5:7–8).

 

October 6, 2017

Priorities and Prayers

Today we’re reconnecting with Melissa Turner at Tin Roof Sky. She doesn’t post often, but she has great insights. There are two posts for you today. Click the titles below to read at source.

Priorities

“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.” Micah 6:8 (MSG)

Recently, my good friend Google alerted me that there was an accident ahead on my route to work. My daughter and I had to take an alternate route through a residential section.

She was marveling at the sizes of the houses we passed. (Probably because our own humble abode comes in at well under 1000 square feet). I told her that as adults, we have to decide how much house we NEED versus how much we WANT. We have to prioritize, and make sure we’re meeting the needs of ourselves and our family, without going overboard in an attempt to impress someone or fill a hole in our own selves.

Above all, I told her, our priorities need to line up with God’s.

He hasn’t made a mystery of what’s important to Him. In Micah 6:8, He says He wants us to be fair, be just, be compassionate, and be loyal. Oh yeah, and to be humble before the Lord, instead of thinking too highly of ourselves.

God makes it sound so simple, doesn’t He? Yet we constantly have to be reminded of His priorities, as the ones the world offers try to invade and take over.

Let’s reassess today. Let’s make sure that what we’re doing, for Him and for others, lines up with His words. Let’s set an example for our families and the world around us by the way that we order our lives.

Express Delivery

“In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.”
John 6:16‭-‬21 MSG

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

We serve a God of suddenly. 

Sometimes, our deliverance takes awhile. God is waiting on us to “get it,” to work though a process, to grow to a certain point.

Other times, He shows up and shows out. He comes in and like a the supernatural being He is, saves the day in one fell swoop.

Now, I don’t know why He chooses to make us wait sometimes, and delivers instantaneously others. I don’t know why some people get miraculous healings that doctors can’t explain, and others get their healing on the other side of Glory. What I do know is that God not only has the totality of our lives in view, but everyone else’s as well.

I want all my prayers to be answered “jiffy quick” as my Pastor’s wife is fond of saying. I want Him to bend the laws of gravity, time, and space for me every single time. But I have to remember that He is in charge, not me. And whether He snatches me up out of my problem, or works His plan out through my waiting, He will give me whatever I need at that exact moment.

 

August 18, 2016

Passing Through the Valley of Baca

Andy ElmesI couldn’t help but take a second look at the passage below several times, as UK devotional writer Andy Elmes, to whom I am subscribed, has spent over a week in these three verses. To get these sent to you by email, go to Great Big Life and click on Breakfast of Champions.

Psalm 84:5-7 (NKJV)
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

August 9:

I have been thinking of these verses a lot recently and have been considering how pilgrimage affects so many areas of our lives; also how it is not a bad thing but, more often than not, a God-designed thing for our lives. Here are some thoughts for you.

What is it to pilgrimage, you may ask? The word pilgrimage means ‘to journey’, so when God speaks of pilgrimage in this Psalm He is saying, “Blessed is the person who sets his heart on journeying”, and that is so true, especially when it comes to our walk or journeying with God. “Blessed [daily] is the person who sets his heart on journeying with the Lord”. Other faiths in the world have a spiritual pilgrimage mentality but theirs are always to physical places and landmarks, like Mecca and Lourdes, but it is not to be that way for us. Our pilgrimage is to a person – the person of Jesus – ever towards a deeper relationship with Him.

Christianity is not meant to be something or somewhere you totally arrive at instantly. Yes, when we believe, we receive from God everything we are going to get (of His fullness we have received, John 1:16). But we are called to spend the rest of our days (till we appear before Him in Zion) journeying into everything He has given us, to understanding and embracing all that He has done and given to us in Christ. God wants us to “keep on movin'”.  We are not to be parked vehicles, but ever-moving ones that walk, like Abraham, into all the promises and intentions of God for our lives.

So, our pilgrimage (journey) does not end when we reach a historical landmark, because if it did, how sad would that be. You would be left thinking, “What next?”. No, God commits to walk with us each and every day on this pilgrimage that He has called us to and every day it gets better and better. It’s when we set our hearts to journey with the Lord that we learn all that we need to and He is revealed to us so we know Him closer and more intimately as the miles of our days pass by.

Think about those two disciples that walked with the freshly risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). For some reason Jesus had not allowed them to recognise Him, but appeared as someone they did not know. It was as they walked (journeyed) with Him that He made the mysteries of the scripture easily understood, and then it was during the journey that He revealed Himself to them. As we set our hearts to journeying with the Lord He helps us to daily understand His mysteries and daily reveals Himself to us, as He did to those two disciples, and He causes our hearts to burn within us as theirs did…

August 10:

…This verse then makes a strange statement that caught my attention: “as they pass through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs”. I wondered where Baca was and after a short search discovered that no one really knows where this valley was, but most live by the interpretation rather than a physical place: its most common interpretation is ‘valley of weeping’. We all, at one time or another on our pilgrimage, will go through valleys or ‘times of weeping’ but God promises, as we journey (stay) with Him through these seasons, He will cause them to be places of refreshing springs.

When you walk daily with Jesus He causes life and joy to break out in the saddest or seemingly driest places. He causes rivers to flow in what are the dessert times of our life. He does not call us to avoid or by-pass these valleys but walks with us through them – remember He promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. He is not a ‘good-time God’, only there for the good bits. Rather He remains a good God in all the seasons we experience on this pilgrimage called life. Remember, David in Psalm 23 said, “though I walk through the valley”. He included valleys in his great ‘pilgrimage with God’ Psalm because he knew we all go through them! …

… He is the God that causes springs to flow in dry places with us, in us and through us!

August 11:

Psalm 84 teaches us that journeying with the Lord causes your life to go from strength to strength, not from strength to weakness. As we dare to daily journey with Him He causes us to become strong where we are weak and fully developed in the areas of our life that we are not. Each stage of our pilgrimage causes our lives to be enhanced and empowered for the road and journey that still lies ahead. Remember what we learn about David’s pilgrimage when it came to the moment he needed to take down a giant (Goliath): his life was prepared and ready, his life was more than strong enough. Why? Because the pilgrimage (God-journey) of his life had brought him to, and through, the defeat of bears and lions; Goliath was the next logical victory and he was destined to win that encounter too.

It was his ongoing journey that made him strong for what God had for him next, and so will yours as you daily commit to journey with the Lord; through things that may seem big He builds you up for the victories that lie further ahead. As the disciples walked with Jesus over the three years of their discipleship they went from strong to stronger in their ability, knowledge and confidence. We don’t have just three years: we have a lifetime! As you commit to walk with Him daily, as they did, your life will also go from strength to strength too.

August 12

…We love the destination and the arriving bit. God loves the journey just as much, because in the journey He does a whole lot of stuff in us which is always good for our long-term life. He is looking at the book of your life, not your present chapter. Let’s face it, when it comes to the promises of God and seeing them manifest in our lives we are all like a bunch of kids in the back of the car on the way to a summer holiday.

Independent of whether we are on route to Torquay or Disneyland, the question that comes from the kids in the back is always the same – come on, you know it, you have either heard it or were the one that said it when you were younger. Yeah, that’s the one: “ARE WE THERE YET?” Kids do not appreciate journeys: they like instant arrivals! Meanwhile, the parent is enjoying the journey (except for the kids keeping on) and the journey is actually producing patience and appreciation in the life of the kids (when they finally get there they will love it).

God has promised we will arrive – and arrive we will, but we, like the kids in a car, need to remember that God is not in a hurry. He knows that the journey can produce a whole lot of good and effective stuff in us that would never be produced if we had a Tardis-type experience (instant arrival) with our destinies. It is often on the journey that we learn and gain valuable things like appreciation. When you have journeyed toward somewhere you really appreciate it when you get there. One common example would be if you save up for something: you appreciate it a lot more than if you put it on the credit card! Journeying towards something really does cause appreciation and value…

August 15:

The journey will create appreciation. It will also create faith as you continually trust in God while still on route. When we talk of faith we should always look around for its best friend, patience. I like faith more and would like to hang out with it on its own! The problem is that God most often sends them as a team, because patience produces a lot, too – and together they produce greatness. Let’s think about the power of patience this morning (the art of waiting for something).

Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Remember, patience is a fruit of the Spirit not a gift – it is grown, rather than given. Like any fruit it grows slowly, not suddenly appears.

Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

The Bible tells us to imitate people of faith and patience – not just those who are full of faith, but those who can trust God and wait for His perfect timing. When we choose to walk in faith and patience we will inherit everything God has promised. Remember, God works in the delay and the things He has promised are so worth waiting for. Keep away from shortcuts that produce look-a-likes, and hang out for the genuine which comes from the very hand of God. Hey, to be honest with you, patience was never my favorite fruit – I would have loved for God to give it to me as an instant download! Trouble is, He would not. Why? Because He knows that patience does us good, and when we have it and mix it with our faith incredible things start to happen.

 

June 6, 2016

Hurry Up, God!

God's Timing

Is. 5:18 What sorrow for those who…
19 …mock God and say,
“Hurry up and do something!
We want to see what you can do.
Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan…

When I first heard this verse quoted on the weekend, I assumed that it was referring to those who grow impatient for a work of God to take place; those who have prayed and have not yet received and so are asking God to hurry up.

But the context is more for those who are mock God and question the validity of his promised judgment. The Asbury Bible Commentary states:

Verse 19 is directed against those who mock God and his prophet. Isaiah has prophesied that God’s judgment was imminent, but these foolish ones do not believe him! “If what you say is true, show us. See, it won’t happen.”

The modern equivalent is “Show me the money!”

That seem mockery is reflected in the New Testament in 2 Peter 3:3-4

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

And just a few verses later (v.9)

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

This window of time in which we live right now is a confusing middle ground in the unfolding drama of God’s dealing with his creation. But we saw in Isaiah was Peter echoes. People expect that if God is going to act, it’s going to happen now and when it doesn’t they assume God has forgotten us, or forgotten his promise.

Habakkuk saw this in his day as well. In 2:3 he assures his hearers:

This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Of course this is due to our human limitation. Ecclesiastes 3:11 explains:

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

In other words, we have a hint of eternity but not the whole picture. In “the Love chapter” (I Cor 13:9) Paul says,

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!

and later, in verse 12

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

But what about my earlier thoughts about waiting for a move of God, or for God to answer prayer or for God to reveal His will, or for God to send an answer to prayer?

The same impatience pervades both types of issues. We can fall into the same trap as the mockers outlined above in thinking that God has forgotten or that God delights in keeping us waiting.

But Paul answers this in the very familiar verse — Philippians 1:6 — where we end today, but keep in mind as you read this that he wrote this in prison, chained to a wall. He was not vacationing at a posh resort when he penned this, but states emphatically:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.


all verses today: NLT

graphics: an assortment suggested from searching themes related to God’s Timing; Waiting on God; Hurry Up, God; it seems this is a very popular topic…


Mission Statement: Christianity 201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of Christian blogs and websites. Authors chosen for inclusion here represent a variety of doctrinal viewpoints and one of the purposes of C201 is to allow readers a ‘macro’ view of the many ministries and individual voices available for reading. You are encouraged to click through and read more of their material, not just the single item posted here. Where no author or link to another website appears, articles are by Paul Wilkinson unless otherwise stated.

Your suggestions for articles and websites to consider are always welcome.

Scripture portions from various translations quoted at Christianity 201 are always in green to remind us that the Scriptures have LIFE!

February 2, 2015

Marching in the Trees

II Samuel 5:24 And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” (ESV)

Angels tread light, and he that can walk upon the clouds can, when he pleases, walk on the tops of trees, or (as bishop Patrick understands it) at the head of the mulberry-trees, that is, of the wood, or hedge-row of those trees. ~ Matthew Henry

Today we pay a return visit to Alistair Begg, pastor and host of the Christian radio program Truth for Life.  He writes and broadcasts to a much older audience than most readers here, but I believe we can learn much from the writings of another generation if we just slow down enough to take in what they have to teach us.

First, a definition of a term in the first sentence that is not used as much in the modern church:

Unction = ( 1 John 2:20 1 John 2:27 ; RSV, “anointing”)  Kings, prophets, and priests were anointed, in token of receiving divine grace. All believers are, in a secondary sense, what Christ was in a primary sense, “the Lord’s anointed.”  (Easton’s Bible Dictionary sourced at Bible Study Tools.)

Here I would add that this should not be confused with the Roman Catholic sacrament of the same name. If your background is Catholic Church, you may find the use of term confusing.

To read the devotional at source, and see others by the same author, click the title below.

Be Prepared

The members of Christ’s Church should be very prayerful, always seeking the unction of the Holy One to rest upon their hearts, that the kingdom of Christ may come, and that His “will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”1 But there are times when God seems especially to favor Zion; such seasons ought to be to them like “the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees.”

We ought then to be doubly prayerful, doubly earnest, wrestling more at the throne than we have been used to do. Action should then be prompt and vigorous. The tide is flowing–now let us pull manfully for the shore. Oh, for Pentecostal outpourings and Pentecostal labors.

Christian, in yourself there are times “when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees.” You have a peculiar power in prayer; the Spirit of God gives you joy and gladness; the Scripture is open to you; the promises are applied; you walk in the light of God’s countenance; you have peculiar freedom and liberty in devotion, and more closeness of communion with Christ than before. Now, at such joyous periods when you hear the “sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees,” is the time to rouse yourself; now is the time to get rid of any evil habit, while God the Spirit helps your infirmities. Spread your sail; but remember what you sometimes sing…

I can only spread the sail;
But God must breathe the auspicious gale.

Only be sure you have the sail up. Do not miss the gale for want of preparation for it. Seek help from God, that you may be more earnest in duty when made more strong in faith, that you may be more constant in prayer when you have more liberty at the throne, that you may be more holy in your conversation while you live more closely with Christ.

1Matthew 6:10


I John 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.

August 24, 2014

Morning Prayers

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Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”

We begin with Rick Roeber at The Bare Soul Daily Devotional:

While evening prayers are often built upon reflection concerning our day, our time with the Lord in the morning should be hopeful. The prophet tells us in Lamentations how the Lord’s mercies and compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Promises such as this should evoke expectancy in God’s children as they prepare themselves for the upcoming day.

Morning Prayer should be deliberate. For some, this means sitting or kneeling in a quiet place. For others, they may meet God as they walk, bike, or run. Wherever we meet God during our day, we should keep His word close at hand. Meditating on God’s word and then praying it back to Him should be the ongoing discipline of every believer. For those who choose to exercise while praying, the word of God should be rich in their minds and hearts. There are few things as delightful as when God makes His word come to life during our prayer times. No matter where we choose to meet Him in our morning devotions, we should always have open hearts that cry, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!”

Matthew Henry writes of this verse:

What David here promises, as the condition on his part to be performed, fulfilled, and kept, that he might obtain this gracious acceptance; this may guide and govern us in our addresses to God, that we may present them aright, for we ask, and have not, if we ask amiss. Four things David here promises, and so must we:—

(1.) That he will pray, that he will make conscience of praying, and make a business of it: Unto thee will I pray. “Others live without prayer, but I will pray.” Kings on their own thrones (so David was) must be beggars at God’s throne. “Others pray to strange gods, and expect relief from them, but to thee, to thee only, will I pray.” The assurances God has given us of his readiness to hear prayer should confirm our resolution to live and die praying.

(2.) That he will pray in the morning. His praying voice shall be heard then, and then shall his prayer be directed; that shall be the date of his letters to heaven, not that only (“Morning, and evening, and at noon, will I pray, nay, seven times a day, will I praise thee”), but that certainly. Morning prayer is our duty; we are the fittest for prayer when we are in the most fresh, and lively, and composed frame, got clear of the slumbers of the night, revived by them, and not yet filled with the business of the day. We have then most need of prayer, considering the dangers and temptations of the day to which we are exposed, and against which we are concerned; by faith and prayer, to fetch in fresh supplies of grace.

(3.) That he will have his eye single and his heart intent in the duty: I will direct my prayer, as a marksman directs his arrow to the white; with such a focus and steadiness of mind should we address ourselves to God. Or as we direct a letter to a friend at such a place so must we direct our prayers to God as our Father in heaven; and let us always send them by the Lord Jesus, the great Mediator, and then they will be sure not to miscarry. All our prayers must be directed to God; his honour and glory must be aimed at as our highest end in all our prayers. Let our first petition be, Hallowed, glorified, by thy name, and then we may be sure of the same gracious answer to it that was given to Christ himself: I have glorified it, and I will glorify it yet again.

(4.) That he will patiently wait for an answer of peace: “I will look up, will look after my prayers, and hear what God the Lord will speak (Ps. 85:8; Hab. 2:1), that, if he grant what I asked, I may be thankful—if he deny, I may be patient—if he defer, I may continue to pray and wait and may not faint.” We must look up, or look out, as he that has shot an arrow looks to see how near it has come to the mark. We lose much of the comfort of our prayers for want of observing the returns of them. Thus praying, thus waiting, as the lame man looked unwaveringly on Peter and John (Acts 3:4), we may expect that God will give ear to our words and consider them, and to him we may refer ourselves, as David here, who does not pray, “Lord, do this, or the other, for me;” but, “Hearken to me, consider my case, and do in it as seems good unto thee.”

 


Enjoy a worship song taken from Psalm 5

June 13, 2013

What the Bible Teaches About the Seasons

David Kenney has been doing a series about the seasons in our lives.  There was a post more recently about summer which would be far more timely, but perhaps some of you find yourselves spiritually speaking having to Navigate Spiritual Winter.

Last time we looked at the seasons. And of the four, I think we don’t want to wade through winter.  Can’t we get through the hard times or the dark times any quicker? Winter is cold and lonely. In Winter, God seems silent.

Perhaps you’re walking through a season of Winter right now.

So I want to offer you a few suggestions for this season of quiet that might help you navigate it.

1. EXAMINE YOUR LIFE

In seasons of Winter it’s possible that something is blocking you from hearing God’s voice. Take a moment to examine your life and ask “Is there any sin in my life that might be standing between me and God?”

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened”

A close self-examination will require you to go deeper than perhaps obvious things.

Where is your thought life these days, what do you spend your time doing? And remember, there is no shame in asking for forgiveness. Sometimes that’s what is needed to set the relationship back.  And of course, God does not hold grudges, nor is he immature that he would be giving you the silent treatment, rather I think sometimes the volume is turned down, to force you to stop what you’re doing and ask. “What just happened? What am I missing?”

God wants nothing more than to be in right relationship with you, and sometimes we just need to say we’re sorry to make it all better again.

2. ACCEPT GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY

You know what that means? It means sometimes God is silent and he has every right to be, he’s God. He actually doesn’t owe you an answer.

A.W. Tozer said, “God is said to be absolutely free, because no one and no thing can hinder Him or compel Him or stop Him. He is able to do as He pleases always, everywhere, forever.”

When the trials hit Job, Job’s wife offered her own advice, she told her husband to curse God and die. But in the very first chapter of his story, when Job hears that every single one of his children had died and that many of his flocks and herds had been stolen, the bible says in Job 1:20 that “Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.”

During season of Winter, we each like Job, have a choice in how we react. Job faced the choice of acknowledging—or rejecting—the sovereignty of God. In response to his suffering and loss. Job chose to let God be God.

I love what Job says in Job 2:10 “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

Accepting God’s sovereignty also means actively trusting God and realizing He is in control and can be trusted.

Job says in 13:15 “Though (the Lord) slay me, I will hope in Him”

Nothing in Job’s life, or ours, happens apart from God’s knowledge and plan. Remember you are his project, you are his masterpiece. Da Vinci used to walk away from painting the Mona Lisa for years. Can you imagine how she felt? Did I do something wrong? Does Da Vinci still love me? But all the while it is Da Vicni who is the master. He knows what he’s doing. He can’t be expected to explain himself to a painting.

And if you read the story of Job, as the reader you know that there are no moments where God was not in control. God knows what he is doing and sometimes the hardest moment are just to trust him.

3. LISTEN TO WHAT GOD IS SAYING

Although God may seem silent regarding a specific request or petition, remember that He is always in a constant state of communication with us. In fact, it is possible that you already have an answer from God. The Bible is full of specific answers about what is right and wrong as well as information about God’s character and His intention for us as His children and His followers.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So don’t forget to dig into God’s Word—even if God seems silent in prayer and life, He is always talking you through his word. To find out what God has to say about the problems you’re facing or the questions you’re asking; read the Bible. I think many times in silent times, verses in the Bible can have new significance in light of current problems you are facing.

4. RECOGNIZE THAT SILENCE CAN BE INTIMATE

Oswald Chambers says, “When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible—with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.”

Silence does not have to be bad. Sometimes its a sign of comfort and familiarity.  You know, when you are completely comfortable with a person, it is possible to sit in a room together and not utter a single word. When two people are in love, silence can be a sign of intimacy.

1 Kings 19:11-13 The Lord said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

 Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

It’s such a beautiful picture. All of these mighty and disruptive sounds – elements that we might assume would be announcing God’s presence, but it was in the last sound, the sound of a whisper where God was heard.

God whispering results in us leaning in closer. Maybe that’s what God wants, maybe he’s tired of yelling at you. Maybe he’s tired of yelling over the distractions in your life. Lean in.

5. CONTINUE TALKING TO GOD

Psalm 22:2 “Oh my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest”

David is expressing anguish in God’s silence but notice what he says, “I cry out every day.” Just because God is silent, that doesn’t mean David has to be. If I baby can’t get his parents attention with cute little coos and giggles, what do they do? Cry even louder. Crying is like a baby alarm isn’t it?

I think seasons of quiet can be just as much an invitation to us to press forward and seek Him even more boldly.

Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying.

Because the truth is, even though it’s Winter, there is still activity going on isn’t there?  Just because it’s winter it doesn’t mean things aren’t growing. Those dead trees sticking out of the snow, they’re still alive aren’t they? They don’t look like it, they aren’t bearing any fruit, but deep down inside those roots are still growing. Even in Winter, God is still working.

The full series:

May 6, 2013

David Honest Before God

Psalm 143 New International Version (NIV)
Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]

Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

Footnotes:

    1. Psalm 143:6 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.

Our thoughts today come from the blog of Ruth Graham, daughter of Ruth and Billy Graham. This appeared a week ago under the title Honest Prayer.

Friday I went to Dallas to speak to the Christian Women in Media conference. Neat ladies. I had a message all ready but then last Wednesday it was as if I heard the Lord tell me it was not His message!He asked me to change it. I hate when He does that!

He seeemed to want me to speak from Psalm 143. That Psalm is a desperate cry for deliverance and guidance – and who doesn’t need that? Those of us in ministry (mothers, dads, workers, teachers… every believer) feel often under attack and need to know how to respond, where to turn, who to trust…all the things King David was feeling. I love his honesty.

David faced perilous times…as do we. He didn’t turn to friends, shopping, drink, pornography… He didn’t try to find a temporary escape. David needed deliverance – so do we. Not usually from guns and swords…but from fear, pride, anger, jealousy, self-righteousness. The Bible teacher, Jill Briscoe, calls them “snakes in my garden”. King Solomon called them “little foxes that spoil the vines”. What are your “snakes”, “little foxes? We all have those things that wear us down. Weaken us. Defeat and discourage us.

I love the way David approaches the Lord – not with a particular posture or fancy, spiritual words he just says, “Hear me! Pay attention, Lord! Lend me you ear. And answer me!” He reminds himself of God’s character…”Be true to yourself, God, in your faithfulness and righteousness”. We dare to reach out for God because of His character. We have nothing in ourselves.

But then David sort of backs away from God’s righteousness because David knows he deserves judgment…so he appeals to God’s mercy!

He tells God what is going on…he has an enemy that has gotten inside him persecuting his soul. It had gotten under his skin and was eating him alive. David is really low. He feels like he is living in a tomb – gloom and unhappiness surround him. He’s overwhelmed, barely hanging on. He’s not in a good place. Where are you?

If you look at the Psalm you can see the 3 steps down: he is focused on 1.) the enemy, 2.) the darkness, 3.) his emotions. That focus will defeat you every time!

When you get overwhelmed you can’t get out by yourself. David had been there before. What had he learned? “Be still and know that I am God.” Turn our focus on to God and His unchanging character. And then David remembers what God has done for him in the past. The times He delivered David. The comfort and encouragement from God. It it is important to remember what God has done for us in the past. And if you are like me, I tend to forget so I keep a journal. And I review it periodically.

David physically appeals to God with outstretched arms. A posture of desperation and surrender. Are you weary and desperate?

David tells God to answer him quickly. I love that! He needs God NOW! He doesn’t want God to hide from him.

Have you ever felt like God was absent? Heaven’s doors were locked from the inside? You feel like you are suffocating. You are not alone. Many saints have experienced that from time to time. It is such a valuable – but hard – learning time.

David speaks to God as a friend. He is our friend, too. We can be honest with Him. He can sort through the anger and 4-letter words. He is so much bigger than all of that!

David wants to hear God’s loving-kindness in the morning. Does God have your ear in the morning? Or are you distracted by the television news, your day’s schedule? Do you read your email before you hear from God?

David declares His trust in God…How ’bout doing that first thing in the morning while you are still in bed? Just say, “Lord I trust you today.” David trusts God’s unchanging character. We can too. But we have to know what His character is. I challenge you to make a list of God’s characteristics…holy, just, faithful, redeemer, help, near…

Then David asks God to teach him ow to walk and where to go. David wants to move forward but needs God’s help. How many of us as parents love to have our children look to us for help and advice! God loves us to acknowledge our dependence on Him. And why should God do that? David say he offers “all his heart” to God. That delights God. And David asks for deliverance because his refuge is God Himself. David has learned that the only basis for life is God.

He asks to do God’s will, to lead a balanced life and to be revived. Not for his sake but for God’s name’s sake. Is that our motivation?

David appeals now to God’s righteousness. He now sees it as his only way. His hope. His refuge. The way through the situation.

David asks that his enemies be silenced and destroyed. David is specific.

What enemies in your life need to be destroyed? Silenced? Negative self-talk? Self-importance? Pride? Comparison? Insecurity?

Are you nearing burn out? Are you desperate for God to answer? Do you need direction?

Follow David’s example by pouring your heart out to God, being honest with Him, declaring your trust in Him. He will deliver you. Maybe not in your time or way. But in His perfect time and way.

November 1, 2012

Life in the Wilderness

This post is from Claire at the blog, One Passion, One Devotion.

David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands. 1 Samuel 23:14

From the promise of kingship to the day David got the crown on his head he was in leadership training.  the wilderness may be tough and rough but it is where some of our greatest life lessons are learned.  It is the university of life.  many great people in the bible had some wilderness time before they were promoted to a position of power and responsibility.  Abraham.  Moses.  Joseph. Jacob.  Job.  John. Jesus.

Don’t underestimate or despise the wilderness season in your life.

It is essential that we “get” is that sometimes great time can pass between the call and the living that call. During this time God is shaping us and forming us and dealing with the crud within us. He is renewing our mind and making us into a vessel of honour (2 Tim 2:20-21)

Take for example Saul and David.

Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. 1 Samuel 9:2

They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” 1 Samuel 10:23-24

When Saul was chosen king he was the most handsome and stand out guy in the nation. He had all the gifts and talents and personality. Samuel anointed him and he immediately began ruling as king of all of Israel. Yet he ended up failing as king and turning away from God.

“While king Saul was truly the best man Israel had to offer when they demanded a king, his heart had not been groomed through testing before he assumed the throne. As king, Saul was entrusted with a measure of anointing to lead the armies of Israel to victory and shepherd the people. Yet without the strength of character that only comes by winning private battles, these public victories exposed the previously hidden weakness of Saul’s heart towards God. That weakness, combined with his growing appetite for favor of man, led him to bring glory to himself and disobey the Lord.” Bill Johnson – Strengthen Yourself In The Lord

David however was anointed and then spent about 14 years in “training”. In those training years he endured more difficulty, persecution and rejection that many of us face in a lifetime. He probably didn’t expect it to take so long for him to be king. God didn’t want another king Saul and so took His time to mould David into a king and man after His own heart.

The wilderness always reminds me of this quote:

“But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.” ~ J.C. Ryle, Holiness

The wilderness is a place of preparation in our lives, a place of transformation.  a place where we are reliant on God and trusting Him.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.  1 Peter 1:6-7

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

It may be a place of delay – the delay between the call and the living the call, the delay between the promise and the position.  delay has the capacity to bring up things that are hiding in our hearts that will restrict and sabotage us.  better out NOW than later!  delay reveals sin and brings it up to deal with now.  delay is a time of preparation.

There are lessons to be learned in the process, in the wilderness. Lessons about ourselves, lessons about how to work with others, lessons about how to relate to God.

God will open the right doors at the right time.

“Its not about knowing who holds the right keys but its about knowing the KEEPER of the keys”– Peter Robertson.

God can promote us at the right time. But I also believe He will also hold us back if we are not surrendered and transformed. God is full of grace but He is also holy. He uses flawed human beings but that doesn’t excuse compromise and a heart that isn’t fully leaning to God… God wants us to be intentionally following Him not intentionally following our own self and self desires.

The great things God will do through you are going to grow in the soil of persistence, prayer, obedience and sacrifice.  That means there will be plenty of plowing and pruning.  That’s the way living things grow, whether you’re talking about vegetables or vision. The process is a time of strengthening.  The process is the place where you lay down your pride and learn to rely totally on God.  Most importantly, the process is the way we grow to know God.  And that’s really the whole point. Steven Furtick

David’s time of wilderness prepared him to be king, the most renown king in all of Israel’s history, and most importantly, a man after God’s heart.

This is one of several posts Claire has written on the the wilderness theme as found in scripture. To see more, click here.

April 2, 2012

Madame Guyon Quotations

First, the usual stop at Wikipedia (two separate links as noted):

Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (commonly known as Madame Guyon) (13 April 1648 – 9 June 1717) was a French mystic and one of the key advocates of Quietism. Quietism was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and she was imprisoned from 1695 to 1703 after publishing a book on the topic, A Short and Easy Method of Prayer.

Quietism is a Christian philosophy that swept through France, Italy and Spain during the 17th century, but it had much earlier origins. The mystics known as Quietists insist, with more or less emphasis, on intellectual stillness and interior passivity as essential conditions of perfection.

Guyon believed that one should pray all the time, and that in whatever one does, one should be spending time with God. “Prayer is the key of perfection and of sovereign happiness; it is the efficacious means of getting rid of all vices and of acquiring all virtues; for the way to become perfect is to live in the presence of God. He tells us this Himself: “walk before me, and be thou perfect” Genesis 17:1. Prayer alone can bring you into His presence, and keep you there continually.”[1]

As she wrote in one of her poems: “There was a period when I chose, A time and place for prayer … But now I seek that constant prayer, In inward stillness known …”

Here are a few of her writings:


The soul seeks God by faith, not by the reasonings of the mind and labored efforts, but by the drawings of love; to which inclinations God responds, and instructs the soul, which co-operates actively. God then puts the soul in a passive state where He accomplishes all, causing great progress, first by way of enjoyment, then by privation, and finally by pure love.


There are three kinds of silence. Silence from words is good, because inordinate speaking tends to evil. Silence, or rest from desires and passions is still better, because it promotes quietness of spirit. But the best of all is silence from unnecessary and wandering thoughts, because that is essential to internal recollection, and because it lays a foundation for a proper reputation and for silence in other respects.


We must forget ourselves and all self-interest, and listen, and be attentive to God.


If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables, – of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles, and most of all, things unfair.


Regarding your spiritual life, be open, simple and like a child. In the depths of your spirit be like a drop of water lost in an ocean, and be no longer conscious of yourself. In this enlarged condition see and enjoy everything from within God. Within yourself there is only darkness, but in God there is only light. Let God be everything to you…. God’s love is like a weight within us, causing us to sink deeper and deeper into God.


Holy Solitude

Kind solitude
Away from the world and the noise
Divine quietude,
Silence, like the night!

Happy the one that possesses you,
And tastes your sweetness,
The cure of all ills!
Unfortunate are those who do not love you!

It is blessedness,
To be heart to heart with God:
There no disquietude
Troubles the peace of this place.


Rest assured, it is the same God who causes the scarcity and the abundance, the rain and the fair weather. The high and low states, the peaceful and the state of warfare, are each good in their season. These vicissitudes form and mature the interior, as the different seasons compose the year…God loves you; let this thought equalise all states. Let him do with us as with the waves of the sea, and whether he takes us to his bosom, or casts us upon the sand, that is, leaves us to our own barrenness, all is well.


O my Divine Love, the desire I had to please You,
the tears I shed,
my great labours and the little fruit I reaped from it,
moved Your compassion.
You gave me in a moment,
through Your grace and Your goodness alone,
what I had been unable to give myself through all my efforts

I implore you not to give in to despair. It is a dangerous tempatation, because our Adversary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle. Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense God’s blessings and grace. It also causes you to exaggerate the adversities of life and makes your burdens seem too heavy for you to bear. Yet God’s plans for you, and His ways of bringing about His plans, are infinitely wise.

Sources: GiGA Quotes, Quotation Park, Wikiquote, Daily Christian Quotes, Madame Guyon Blogspot, Relevant Blog Blogspot, Rachel Jane Rickert