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).
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.
The Dark Side Of Self Defeating Jealousy
A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones. — Proverbs 14:30
It could be your neighbor’s new car or maybe it was your fifth-grade teacher praising your best friend, but not you. There are so many scenarios that can catch us off-guard and bring out one of the ugliest traits that we are all susceptible to — the experience of jealousy. Whoever came up with the expression “eat your heart out” in reference to producing jealousy in another person was speaking a truth. In Proverbs we learn “envy rots the bones.” Jealousy destroys us from the inside out.
But there is a flipside to self-defeating jealousy. The very same verse begins, “A heart at peace gives life to the body.” Literally translated from the original Greek, “a heart at peace” is called “a healing heart.” The sages explain that a healing heart is a soft heart, one that accepts and forgives and is kind and generous.
A healing heart is the exact opposite of a jealous heart. A jealous heart wants what others have. A healing heart is happy for others when they succeed. A jealous heart is never satisfied. A healing heart is always content. A jealous heart is focused on its own personal gain. A healing heart looks out for the well-being of others.
Yet, for all jealous people do to better their own lives, they only bring ruin upon themselves. In contrast, kind, content, and generous people will bring peace and healing to themselves and to others. People with such a positive and peaceful attitude allow the body to function properly while spreading peace and health to those with whom they interact.
Of course we’d all prefer to have a healing heart over a jealous one. But how can we avoid jealousy?
The following story can help us. Once there were two eagles who would fly together. One eagle was able to fly higher and faster than the other, making the less adept eagle very jealous. One day, the jealous eagle spotted a hunter and asked him to shoot the other eagle. The hunter said that he could, but needed a feather for his arrow. The jealous eagle was happy to oblige, plucking one of his own feathers. The hunter missed and needed another feather, and then another and another. The jealous eagle supplied so many feathers that soon he didn’t have enough feathers to fly. The huntsman turned around and shot the eagle who could no longer fly or escape.
This story shows us how to avoid jealousy — by knowing deeply that it harms us most of all. When we feel jealousy beginning to grow and fester inside us, we must allow our hearts to be healing hearts, bringing life and joy to ourselves and those around us.
Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
A new driver for an interstate trucking company was having a difficult time. He found the long cross-country trips extremely tiring. The older driver who traveled with him, however, seemed to thrive on those long trips. He always seemed to look as fresh at the end of the ride as he did at the beginning.
One day, the young man asked the older what his secret was. “Well, it’s really all in the way you look at it,” he replied. “While you went to work this morning, I went for a ride through the country.”
Our focus will determine whether life is work or a ride in the country. We are privileged to be here in this day and age. God is doing awesome things right before our eyes and He’s allowing us to take part!
Let’s get excited about taking a ride with the Lord today! He has great things to show us and teach us along the way!
Sing A New Song
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And yet, as human beings we tend to be creatures of habit even as we wish for different circumstances in our lives and in our world. As Einstein made clear, however, there is only one way to change the circumstances we see in our lives: If we don’t like the results, we need to change the equation.
For far too long, humanity has sung the same song. A song of war and sadness. A song of depravity and deception. We have sung dirges of hate and ballads of oppression. Yes, there have been high notes in history, and at times, even a great symphony. Yet by and large, our song has stayed the same with the same sorry chorus. History tends to repeat itself. But it doesn’t have to.
Friends, it’s time to change our tune. It’s time to do something different so our world can be different. And the changes start with us. Do you dance to a song of worry all day long? Try instead to tune in to the wavelength of faith. Do you walk to the beat of an angry drum? Try to slow the rhythm and sing a tranquil tune instead. An amazing thing happens when even one person whistles a happy, catchy new tune. Everyone around them wants to join in!
So “sing a new song,” your new song, and soon others will be singing it, too.
Scripture is filled with direct connections between the filling of the Holy Spirit and joy. Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 says, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
We are not designed to have joy in ourselves, but by the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within us. As the disciples began to be filled with the Holy Spirit, their lives changed dramatically. They went from fearful, fair weathered followers of Jesus to joy-filled, sacrificial and empowered world changers. They had joy in the midst of intense persecution because they had the Holy Spirit filling them with the fruits of his indwelling.
We have the same Holy Spirit the disciples had, and he longs to do the same kind of works in you and me today as he did in them thousands of years ago. He longs to fill us with joy in the midst of any trial or pain. He longs to heal and transform our hearts into greater reflections of God’s goodness. He longs to make us a people so joyful that there is no other explanation for our joy other than God is with us.
So, how do we allow the Spirit to bear the fruit of joy in our lives? How do we grow in our relationship with this mysterious part of the Godhead? It all starts with a posture of humility and prayer. The Holy Spirit never forces us into deeper relationship with him. He is peaceful, powerful, loving and patient. You must make time to respond to his small tugs on your heart in order to walk in greater relationship with him. You must humble yourself and ask for more of him– whatever that looks like. Allow the truth of God’s love and faithfulness to cast out any fear or reservation about a lifestyle of total connection with the Holy Spirit. Ask him to fill you to overflowing today and guide you to a lifestyle of bearing the fruit of intimate relationship with him.
The Spirit knows how to guide our hearts. He knows if we were made more introverted or extroverted. He knows if we are made more intuitive, pragmatic or logical. And he knows the perfect ways to guide us into deeper, more fruitful lives. Spend time allowing the Spirit to lead you into a life filled with more joy. Allow him to speak to you and lead you in whatever ways he desires. And rest in his loving presence as you learn what it is to reach greater depths of relationship with him.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal his nearness. Ask him to help you become more aware of his presence in your life.
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to greater depths of joy. Ask him to bear the fruit of joy in your life throughout any and every circumstance. Spend time allowing him to show you what might be in the way of you and the portion of joy afforded to you by his dwelling within you.