Overcoming Obstacles

Matthew 17:14-21

Nothing is impossible for the heavenly Father. No obstacle confuses God or poses any kind of challenge for Him. Though we know He is sovereign over every situation, we have trouble maintaining this perspective, just like the disciples in today’s passage. Too often when difficulties arise, we …

Experience a shift in focus. During trials, we tend to take our eyes off the Lord and instead see only our problems. The longer we look at our circumstance, the larger it seems. As we dwell on it in thought and conversation, our mindset can become very negative. Though God still has a direction for us to take, we are no longer concentrating on His purposes.

Develop an incorrect assessment of resources. In our troubles, we start taking inventory of our own strength and abilities. When they prove insufficient, we become discouraged. The truth is that we don’t have what is needed for life’s trials—Jesus Himself told us that. (See John 15:5.) But God’s capabilities are unlimited, His power is never-ending, and His wisdom is complete. We need to take stock of His resources, not our own.

View obstacles as barriers. For the obedient believer, impediments represent opportunities, not problems. The Lord can demonstrate His awesome power through our difficulties. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.) At such times, we grow in our faith and learn more about our Father. If we view hardships simply as troubles, then we can miss demonstrations of God’s love, power, and wisdom.

Start each day committed to a Christ-centered focus, a dependence on His resources, and an “opportunity” mindset.

The Benefits of Wisdom

Proverbs 3:13-18

Human wisdom is meaningless in the Lord’s eyes. The truth is, God’s “foolishness” is wiser than man’s understanding. (See 1 Cor. 1:25.) While it may feel risky to set aside our own reasoning to seek after the Lord’s, the benefits of walking in His wisdom are great.

The first blessing is greater knowledge of God. The Lord is personally involved in every facet of our lives. The better we know His character, the more we will understand His viewpoint, recognize where He is working, and be able to respond properly to life’s circumstances.

A second way we profit is by receiving clear guidance. God sees everything—His perspective is eternal, and every decision of His is right. He knows exactly what is needed to accomplish His will in our life and what it will take to resolve problems in a godly way, making us more like Christ.

A third benefit is divine protection. As Proverbs 28:26 tells us, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” We are not to rely upon our emotions, which are easily influenced by ungodliness. Nor can we trust the world’s opinions. Wisdom’s protection comes when we have a discerning spirit—one that is sensitive to the Lord’s purpose and will for our life. With it, we gain insight into the unseen and the unspoken because nothing is hidden from the Spirit of God.

Knowing God, clear guidance, divine protection—human wisdom can’t provide any of these. They come only from the heavenly Father, and He offers them freely to all who believe.

God Is In Control

Deuteronomy 29:9

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. Because of the Bible, we can be certain:

God is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

God works circumstances for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we can’t fully comprehend what He’s doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. God is alerting us to the need for repentance—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. The Lord wants to get our attention, and catastrophes open our ears to hear from Him.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His plan. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

The Power of The Holy Spirit

Romans 8:26-27

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.

Trials And Tribulations!

Trials and tribulations have the power to either keep us from abundant life or produce in us character that sustains abundant life. The choice is up to us. Will our faith remain steadfast in the face of trouble or will we abandon the lifestyle of faith for one of the world?

James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Allow the phrase, “Count it all joy” to settle in for a second. What trials have you faced in the past? What trials stand before you today? Is joy the emotion that stirs up within you when you think about your problems?

My first instinct in the face of trial is to run. I long to abandon the problems before me, to act as if they don’t exist. But Scripture commands me to count my trials as joy and run at them head-on for the sake of being transformed into a faith-filled, steadfast child of God. God sees trials as a chance to produce character within me, not as a circumstance intended to harm me or derail his plans for my life.

The greatest gift we’ve been given in the face of trials is faith. When problems are staring at us head-on it’s hard to see around them to the beneficial outcome God intends. In order to face trials the way God intends, we must have faith. We have to believe that God has an outcome as beneficial as the trial is hard. We have to have faith that God will see us through every problem that stands in our way and produce in us a steadfastness on which we can experience abundant life.

Hebrews 10:35-39 says, “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” May we not be a people who shrink back but stand on the firm ground of God’s promises. May we be believers filled with faith founded on the faithfulness of God.

Spend time in prayer allowing God’s word to fill you with fresh perspective about your trials and tribulations.

 

The World Treasures vs Heavenly Ones
Psalm 145:13 (WEB)
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Yahweh is faithful in all his words,
and loving in all his deeds.

 

djs

Seeking To Understand The Mind Of God

Seeking To Understand The Mind Of God
I woke up this morning to news that a bus carrying fourteen senior adults from First Baptist Church of New Braunfels collided with a pickup yesterday afternoon. Thirteen bus passengers were killed. One passenger was hospitalized in critical condition; the pickup driver was hospitalized in stable condition.

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?