DOUBTSTORMS

The following is excerpted from Chapter 13 of In the Eye of the Storm.

On Sundays I stand before a church with a three-point outline in my hand, thirty minutes on the clock, and a prayer on my lips. I do my best to say something that will convince a stranger that an unseen God still hears.

And I sometimes wonder why so many hearts have to hurt.

Do you ever get doubtstorms? Some of you don’t, I know. I’ve talked to you.

I think you are gifted. You are gifted with faith. You can see the rainbow before the clouds part. If you have this gift, then I won’t say anything you need to hear.

But others of you wonder…

You wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never rests. But you would rather be a cynic than a hypocrite, so you continue to pray with one eye open and wonder:

– about starving children

– about the power of prayer

– about the depths of grace

– about Christians in cancer wards

– about who you are to ask such questions anyway.

Tough questions. Throw-in-the-towel questions. Questions the disciples must have asked in the storm.

The light came for the disciples. A figure came to them walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected. Perhaps they were looking for angels to descend or heaven to open. Maybe they were listening for a divine proclamation to still the storm. We don’t know what they were looking for. But one thing is for sure, they weren’t looking for

Jesus to come walking on the water.

“‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

And since Jesus came in a way they didn’t expect, they almost missed seeing the answer to their prayers.

And unless we look and listen closely, we risk making the same mistake. God’s lights in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them.

When the disciples saw Jesus in the middle of their stormy night, they called him a ghost. A phantom. A hallucination. To them, the glow was anything but God.

When we see gentle lights on the horizon, we often have the same reaction. We dismiss occasional kindness as apparitions, accidents, or anomalies. Anything but God.

“When Jesus comes,” the disciples in the boat may have thought, “he’ll split the sky. The sea will be calm. The clouds will disperse.”

“When God comes,” we doubters think, “all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain.”

And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper.

From In the Eye of the Storm

Copyright 1991, Max Lucado

OPPORTUNED BUT NOT RELEVANT

After Jephthah died, Ibzan from Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He sent his daughters to marry men outside his clan, and he brought in thirty young women from outside his clan to marry his sons. Ibzan judged Israel for seven years. When he died, he was buried at Bethlehem. After Ibzan died, Elon from the tribe of Zebulun judged Israel for ten years. When he died, he was buried at Aijalon in Zebulun. After Elon died, Abdon son of Hillel, from Pirathon, judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel for eight years. When he died, he was buried at Pirathon in Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.”

Judges 12:8-15 NLT

Jephthah , Ibzan, Elon, Abdon all had the same opportunities, they were Judges in Israel in the same period of time in history but they didn’t make the same use of the opportunities given them. Jephthah made a ark in the sands of time, his story is heard and known through the ages, the rest were just present.

David was opportuned and he lay hold on that opportunity and killed giants

Samuel was opportuned and he lay hold of that opportunity and became the mouth piece of God

Paul was opportuned and he lay hold on that opportunity and made in roads to the gentile nations

We all are given opportunities by God in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, places of work, all around us, May we make use of the varied opportunities God has given us to impact our generation for good

YOU HAVE FILLED ALL JERUSALEM WITH YOUR TEACHING

““We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!””

‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭5:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As we go about our daily lives, can it be said of us that we have filled our homes, neighborhood, cities, states, nation with the teaching of Christ?

“And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.””

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭5:42‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Even When You Don’t Have Words: Faith

There are times when words simply fail us. Praying in these moments can seem unimaginable. And yet—remarkably—God makes provision for us to pray even when we have no clue what to say.

In Romans 8, Paul acknowledges that we live in a broken world. We experience suffering now. Loss. Sometimes the brokenness comes at our own hands; sometimes we are the ones who are broken by outside factors. Paul first encourages us that things won’t always be this way. We were made for a whole, healed world, and one day that will be reality. In the meantime, we groan. And all of creation groans along with us.

Then Paul says that even when we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit of God intercedes for us with groaning that are too deep for words. In a broken world, we often don’t even know what to ask God for. But he still wants to be with us. He still longs for that conversation. So in these moments, his Spirit will pray for us. We don’t know what to say, but he does. We may not even know what we truly want or need. But the Spirit will do the talking. Our role is to simply enter his presence.

This is praying in faith. We don’t have the answers, but we know the one who does. The specific requests are not as important as the conversation. So we keep coming back to God in faith, not because we know how he should solve our problems, but because we know he is the only one who can. Sometimes the conversation is quiet and tear-filled, but it matters even then. Perhaps especially then.

From a devotional by Echo Prayer

Affirm Others By Accepting Them

This is a message from Better Together Devotional by Rick Warren

Here’s a little secret: Everybody is looking for affirmation. Have you noticed that? People will do almost anything to get it. If you don’t believe that, just watch some of the reality shows. Look at what people do to get on TV, just so people will applaud them.

God is an incredibly affirming and loving Father. When you affirm other people, you are showing love and representing Christ. Jesus affirmed people as he ministered, so you are ministering like Jesus did. You’re showing the world a little bit more about what God is like.

One of the best ways to affirm people in everyday life is to show them acceptance. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” (NIV).

The easy choice sometimes is to snub and belittle and demean people, especially when they don’t measure up to our standards. We all have a tendency to take our strengths and project them on other people, and then put them down when they don’t meet our expectations. For instance, you may be someone who is always punctual, and when other people are late, you tend to look down your nose at them. At the same time, it makes you feel good about yourself because you’re better at being on time. Or maybe you’re a very tidy person who can’t help but notice when you go to other people’s houses how messy everything is, and it makes you feel better about yourself. We tend to project our strengths on other people, forgetting that we have weaknesses in other areas.

Let me tell you a better way to feel better about yourself. Instead of doing it by putting other people down, why not try lifting other people up? It gives you a thrill like nothing else.

The Bible says in Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another” (AMP).

In order to do the work of God, you and I have to value the God given differences among us and the way we are uniquely shaped. Here’s how you know when you’ve accepted someone: You stop insisting that they be just like you. You realize and rejoice in the fact that they’re different. The truth of the matter is, the world would be a boring place if everyone were just like you. So God has made us in all different kinds of ways to do all different kinds of things so everything can get done in this world.

The goal of a family, a small group, a church family, or any community group is not to mold people into your image but to accept and affirm each other and help each other discover who God made you to be.

VERSE OF THE DAY

“God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.””

Genesis 1:26-28 MSG