God’s Spirit indwells believers at salvation, which means His power is available from that moment (Eph. 1:13). God created a simple way for us to access that strength every single day.
First, we must accept the truth that in and of ourselves, we are powerless to live out God’s will. No matter how capable we may be, our own strength and wisdom are insufficient. Sometimes Christians become prideful about the good they have done or the number of years they’ve been saved. Imagine how much more we could serve the Lord if we would humbly get out of God’s way and let Him work through us.
Second, we surrender our entire life to the guidance and governing of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we choose to conduct our spiritual walk—as well as our vocation, finances, family, and relationships—as God desires. His Spirit is not going to release supernatural power into a life that is continuing in rebellion.
Third, we exercise faith, which means demonstrating belief and trust in the Lord. Faith is the “switch” that releases the Spirit’s power. It’s like saying, “I believe You’ve got a plan, God, so I’m going to trust You to give me what I need in order to do Your will.” Then He will move heaven and earth to provide for your need, whatever it may be.
Merely memorizing and reviewing the steps isn’t enough. Instead, commit to these principles as a way of life. Get used to thinking, I can’t but God can— I’ll submit to His will because His plans are for my good and His glory. That’s the kind of life that overflows with the Holy Spirit’s power.
In eternity past, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit planned and created heaven and earth. Yet even before Adam breathed his first breath, the Lord knew sin would enter the world, causing mankind to be separated from Him. However, a plan for our redemption was already in place, and in the fullness of time, the Son of God came as a baby and lived on the earth.
The Lord doesn’t do anything haphazardly. Every plan of His is predetermined and meticulously carried out at just the right time. And this truth doesn’t apply to just the big events in human history. Since He has a specific plan for every believer, He works to accomplish His goals in each Christian’s life. He ordained the day of our birth, has complete knowledge of what each day will hold, and knows how long we’ll live on this earth. And just as He did when Christ was born, God will, in the fullness of time, execute each part of His will for your life and mine.
However, although His plans for us are good, the only way we’ll see His purposes fulfilled in our life is by submitting to Him. He’s promised to work all things for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
Are you letting the Lord have His way in your life? Even when the need seems urgent, a person with a spirit yielded to God waits patiently for the heavenly Father’s plans to unfold at just the right time. The One with complete knowledge and wisdom knows what He’s doing. Wait for the fullness of His time.
The senior adults were returning from a three-day retreat at a Baptist encampment.
So far this morning, authorities have not determined the cause of the crash. No matter who or what caused the crash, the passengers were not at fault. Yet all but one were killed.
Tragedies like this bring us to the most difficult challenge Christians face theologically. We believe that God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. No other religion affirms these tenets about a personal God as fully as we do.
Since God is omniscient and not bound by time, he knew that the crash would happen before it did (Psalm 139:4; 1 John 3:20). Since he is love (1 John 4:8), he would seemingly not want such a tragedy to come to his children. Since he is omnipotent (Matthew 19:26), he could have prevented the crash from occurring. The Lord who stilled the storms and raised the dead could have stopped a bus and a pickup truck from colliding.
Yet he did not.
Today there are families grieving the sudden loss of their parents and grandparents. A pastor is trying to help his congregation come to terms with a tragedy their church will obviously never forget. The rest of us will watch with sorrow for those who are suffering.
Many wonder why the God these senior adults worshiped didn’t prevent their deaths. So do I.
I often note that God redeems all he forgives. I’m confident that our Father will redeem for greater good even this terrible tragedy (Romans 8:18). But future hope doesn’t explain present suffering. We grieve, and we should. We ask hard questions, and we should.
But here’s what we should not do.
We need not wonder if the Christians who died yesterday share our grief or our questions. We need not wonder if God was able to redeem their suffering. One moment after they died, they stepped into heaven. When they took their last breath here, they took their first breath there. They moved instantly from our fallen world into God’s perfect paradise. Now they are more alive than we are in a world where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
In the face of tragedy, we have two options.
We can decide that God is not who he says he is. We can let our questions keep us from experiencing his transforming love and sustaining grace. We can trust our doubts more than we trust our Creator.
Or we can decide to have faith in our Father even when we don’t understand him. The harder it is to trust God, the more we need to trust God.
Which option do you choose today?
Ruth said, “That’s about where I had to start.”1
The Lord has a calling on our lives, and we’ll discover His will as we’re willing to obey Him without reservation. Sometimes it’s hard to say, “I’m willing.” But perhaps, like Ruth Sundquist, you can start by saying, “Lord, I’m willing for You to make me willing to be willing.”
In any case, open your life to the fullness of God’s plan for you. When we learn the will of God, we begin to live in the will of God.
To live according to the will of God is to know the life that wins.
G. Christian Weiss
The Silent Scream
The hearts of the people
cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
let your tears flow like a river
day and night;
give yourself no relief,
your eyes no rest.— Lamentations 2:18
In the late 1800s, Edvard Munch created one of the most famous pieces of art. The painting, which features a person with hands by his cheeks, mouth open wide, and a look of horror on his face, is known as “The Scream.” The painting, also known as “The Shriek” or “The Cry,” presents a tumultuous orange sky with tranquil-looking passersby.
While the painting is only visual, just about everyone who sees it can hear the scream emanating from the canvass. Yes, the scream is silent, but nevertheless, oh-so loud and powerful. Munch himself explained that the painting had been inspired by what he had heard as “nature’s silent scream.”
In the book of Lamentations we read: “The hearts of the people cry out to the LORD.” Notice that it doesn’t say that the voices of the people cried to the LORD or simply that the people cried out to God. Rather, the verse specifically notes that the hearts of the people cried out.
How does a heart make a noise? According to the sages, a heart that feels pain and turns toward God as its only saving grace makes the loudest sound in the world without uttering a word. In fact, a single heartfelt sigh can be enough to bring about the salvation one so desperately needs.
This is the power of the silent scream. It is not all that different than an actual cry to God. Remember, that it’s only when the Israelites enslaved in Egypt cried out to God, that God’s plan for salvation went into action: “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant . . .” (Exodus 2: 23-24). In much the same way, we can cry to God with our hearts and awaken His great power in our lives.
Let’s remember the power of the silent scream. Let’s remember to cry out to God in our own personal times of trouble. Yet, let us also be keenly aware that so many people close to us and around the globe are screaming out in silence. May we hear their sound of suffering and help them. May God hear their cries and save them. May He hear all our prayers and answer them. Amen!
Listen, See, and Understand!
Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say. — Isaiah 28:23
I recently read a story about a young, successful executive who was driving too fast down a neighborhood street in his brand new Jaguar. He was watching out for children and slowed down just a bit. For a moment, he thought he saw something, but when nothing obvious appeared, he rushed on. Suddenly a brick smashed into the side of his car door. The man pulled over, furious, and grabbed the first kid he saw.
“That’s a new car!” he yelled at the terrified child. “That damage is going to cost! What were you thinking?” By now, the boy was in tears as he pointed to something farther up the block on the ground, half in the street. “I’m sorry Mister,” he sobbed. “My brother fell out of his wheelchair. He is hurt, and I’m not able to pick him up. I threw the brick because no one else would stop to help us and I didn’t know what else to do.”
By the time the boy was done speaking, the businessman was in tears as well. He walked over to the boy’s handicapped brother, picked him up, made sure he was OK, and put him back in his wheelchair. The young boy was grateful and happily pushed his brother home.
The young businessman later said that he decided never to fix the dent on his Jaguar’s side door. He wanted it to stay as a reminder to never go so fast through life that you don’t see another person’s suffering. He wanted to remember not to be so blind that someone has to throw a brick to get his attention.
Similarly, God constantly whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Yet, often we are going so fast through our lives that we don’t hear what He is saying. Or maybe we pause when we think we might have heard something, but when nothing obvious shouts out at us, we carry on as if that tiny nudge to do something had never even happened.
Sometimes, God has to throw a symbolic brick at us to get our attention. Only then do we see or hear what He’s been trying tell us or how we might need to act to help someone in need.
In Isaiah we read, “Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.” God sends us messages all day long; we only need to pay attention and listen. When we see a problem, try to solve it. When we see someone in need, try to help. When we need to change something, change it. When God calls to us softly, answer Him – before He needs to do something more drastic to get our attention.
Faith In Action and Attitude
When the difficult times come into your life, what is your response? While it may seem tempting to look for a shortcut out of the discomfort, that’s not the kind of attitude God desires from us. Instead, He wants His children to remain submitted to Him, though that may not end the affliction. But it is the Lord’s will that we hold our heads high and press on through the pain.
This comes as a shock to many new believers. After placing their faith in Jesus, they are often surprised when some unexpected hardship appears. However, it’s a misconception to expect an easy life once we trust God’s Son as Lord. In fact, the Bible assures us of quite the opposite. Jesus Himself declared that if we are found in Him, the world will give us great trouble and heartache (John 16:33).
In James 1:2, we are instructed to consider our struggles as a source of “pure joy” (NIV). This makes sense only when we see our difficulties through God’s eyes, as opportunities for growth. An untested faith is weak and ineffective. Just like our muscles, our faith must be exercised against some resistance. When we face trials with wisdom and endure them with godly perseverance, we will find blessings we never thought possible.
At the end of the struggle, we will see God standing with our reward: the crown of life (v. 12). To use an example from the world of sports, the “crown of life” is essentially God’s gold medal for a job well done. Do you want the Lord’s recognition of your spiritual victory? Then press on through the hardship and discover what lies just beyond the trial.