The Reason

God comes right out and tells us that he comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we can give them the same comfort God has given us.

The reason – right here in 2 Corinthians 1.  There’s always a purpose for our problems. 

If you’ve walked on this earth for a while, you’ve had problems.  If you’ve walked on the earth a longer while, I know you’ve experience this – you had a problem, God took you through it and then God brought someone into your life who was experiencing that same problem and you were able to share your story with this person.  You were able to tell them about the comfort that God had given you – the assurance of his love, the knowledge of his strength, your personal experience of his rescue and restoration.  You were able to point them to God.

There’s always a reason.  I love how Paul goes on in Chapter 1 talking about how in the province of Asia they were crushed and overwhelmed  beyond their ability to endure – they expected to die.  So they stopped relying on themselves and learned to rely on God who rescued them.  And then Paul says, ” And he will rescue us again.”

Paul trusted that God would rescue him everytime he needed it.  God had always done it in the past and Paul was certain that he would continue to do it in the future.

God has rescued us in the past and he will rescue us again.  Amen, hallelujah!

Thank you, dear Father!

Is this Why?

Why are we here?  Why did God create us at this time, in this place?

We sometimes wonder about the purpose of all of the trials, challenges and hardships we go through.

And then….sometimes……we get a really clear picture of what God is doing.  He makes it very obvious.  We can see him bringing the pieces of the puzzle together and placing them right where they need to be.

And then other times, he brings someone into our lives to speak the words we need to hear so that we can see the picture.  This is what God did in story of Esther.  He had Mordecai speak truth into Esther’s life and she listened.  As a Jew, she was extremely worried about the kings recent decree that all of the Jews be killed but she didn’t realize that she could possibly save them.  UNTIL Mordecai pointed out that it may be “for such a time as this” that she had become queen.

Could this be her purpose?  She wasn’t sure.  So she fasted and prayed for 3 days and asked Mordecai to ask others to fast and pray with her.  She must have gotten the answers and the strength she needed through the fasting and praying because she risked her life by going to the king to ask his favor.  The rest of the story is very interesting as God puts all of the puzzle pieces together to complete his will through Esther.

Her actions and her faith saved her people from a certain death.

For such a time as this…..

We don’t want to miss it, dear Father.  Help us open up our eyes and our hearts to your purpose for us.

It’s Under-rated

Consistency – sounds boring, doesn’t it?  Perseverance – doesn’t sound like fun, does it? 

When Paul talks to us about running the race to win in 1 Corinthians 9, I think about the consistency and perseverance that it will take to run this race of faith successfully all the way to the end……..the end of my life here on earth.

Paul tells us that we need to run to win!  If I thought I had to do it on my strength alone, the outcome would be looking bleak at this point.  But I know in whom I believe and I’m persuaded that he will help me with every step.  Through him, I will have the perseverance and the consistency needed to be successful all the way to the end.

Consistency is important, I think, in order to make progress down this path of faith.   Do I know God more personally now that I did last month? Am I more Christ-like today than I was a year ago?  I think it’s a big challenge for  more ‘experienced’ people to grow more Christ-like rather than more crabby 🙂

Perseverance – life throws us a lot of curve balls.  And a lot of mud balls.  To run the long race of faith without fear….without faltering…..without worrying…….without loosing site of our number one priority…….all the way to the end.

We’re counting on your help, dear Father!

Surrounded

Reading Nehemiah is a breeze so far compared to Chronicles, isn’t it?

It’s a great story.  Nehemiah has a cushy job drinking wine for the king (some would say it’s a dream job except he did it because the wine might be poisoned 🙂  And then he is called away by God to help his people rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

Nehemiah is really clear about the fact that there were people around who didn’t want this to happen.  These people conspired against him and wrote letters filled with lies to the authorities trying to get them to stop the building.  There was conflict from outside his project.

Reading the story this time, I became more aware of the conflict from within.  The beginning of Nehemiah 3 tells us that the people from Tekoa helped with the wall “even though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors.”

Oh, yeah.  “Who are they to tell us what to do?” “We’re volunteering here – they should just be happy with that and stop trying to boss us around.”, “We don’t need to listen to anyone, we want to do this our way.”  Can you hear it?

Nehemiah had conflict everywhere he looked but it didn’t stop him from following God’s directions and, as long as Nehemiah was faithful, he knew God would help him complete his assignment.

What a great example for us – especially when we’re facing adversity on every side!

Thank you, God, for being our strength when we face conflict.

Stirred Up Hearts

Yeah!  We’re through Chronicles!  The bad kings definitely outnumbered the good kings and I’m sure I don’t want to read any of those other books that have even more details about their reigns.  Onto Ezra!

God is stirring up hearts everywhere!

First he stirs up the heart of King Cyrus of Persia.  God fulfills a prophecy had given to Jeremiah when King Cyrus decides to let the Israelites go back to Jerusalem and leave their exile in Persia.  Not only did he let them go, he also have them silver, gold, supplies for the journey and an offering for the Temple.

Then God stirs up the hearts of the people to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the Lord.  Their neighbors have them silver and gold and supplies for their journey.

God is getting what he wants done through people by stirring up their hearts.  Exactly what he does today!

Has God stirred your heart lately?  Given you a new passion?  Stirred up an old passion?  Given you a new thought about how you can contribute to his kingdom’s work?

If so, get started!  God is on the move and he’s inviting you to be a part of what’s happening!

Thank you, God!

Against the Rules

King Hezekiah knew all of the rules about the purification that people needed to go through before celebrating the Passover.  There were a lot of preparations that needed to done and conditions to be met.

But in 2 Chronicles 30  he was in the process of bringing his people back to God and he knew this was a critical time.  People wanted to get right with God now – during this special time of the Passover.  Still- they weren’t purified.

According to the rules, only the people who had gone through the process of purification could participate and it wasn’t a quick process.  So, according to the rules, most of the people were going to miss this opportunity to celebrate the Passover.

King Hezekiah prayed for them and then told them to go ahead and eat the Passover meal anyway.  He said that he knew the Lord is good and would forgive them for the past if the people would decide to follow him now.  God listened and healed the people.

This was a pretty gutsy move – to go against the laws that God himself had given his people.  Yet, Hezekiah knew God well enough to know that God was always good.  He also knew that God would want his people to turn back to him.  Knowing that he was in step with God, Hezekiah was willing to take the risk.  And he was right.

Hezekiah’s actions are a role-model for us.  If we know God and we know we were in step with his will, we need to step out and take the risk when it comes to goodness and forgiveness. 

Dear Father, we want to know you well enough to take a risk when it comes to breaking the rules and sharing in your goodness.

Be Honest

Paul asks us to honest with ourselves in Romans 12.  He tells us not to think that we are better than we are.  And he tells us to measure ourselves by the faith God has given us.

Measure ourselves by the amount of faith we have in God.  Not by how many places we are serving God?   Not by how much money over our tithe we are giving God?  Not by how many years we’ve been going to church?  Not by how much time we spend in prayer and Bible study?

Paul clearly tells us here that what’s important to God – what he measures – is our trust in him and the depth of our relationship with him.  

Talk about clearing up any questions we have about our priorities!

All of the rest of the things I mentioned are good – they can be products of a deep and trusting faith.  Or not.  They can also just be responsibilities checked off a list or window-dressing of a life not wholly committed to God.

The question is – when God measures our faith, what does he find?

May you be pleased with the measure our faith, dear Father.