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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

What if things don’t turn out the way you expected?

I love the story about Paul found in Acts 16:6 and following. On his second missionary journey Paul wanted to go south into Asia (modern day Turkey) but he was “forbidden” by the Holy Spirit to go there. Next he tried to go north into Mysia, but again the Holy Spirit “prevented” him from going.

Wanting to seek new areas to preach, Paul and his companions continued to head west. Like being guided through a gauntlet, they wound up at Troas with the Aegean Sea staring them in the face. Should they cross over onto the continent of Europe? No one had taken the gospel there yet. Should they try, or would the Holy Spirit stop them again?

That night Paul had a vision/dream. It was a man from Macedonia calling, “Come over here and help us!” Paul took that as a sign from God to cross over and continue the spread of the Gospel!

The next day Paul and his companions set out for the Macedonian countryside. After traveling through a couple of smaller cities, they finally came to Phillipi, the leading city of Macedonia.

Now get this – Paul had been specifically directed by the Holy Spirit to go to Macedonia. The message was unmistakenly clear (or so he thought). What do you suppose he expected to find there? I think he expected a host of people receptive to the Gospel message. I think he was so excited to get there that he could hardly contain himself!

But what did he actually find there? Women. Just a group of women having a prayer meeting by the riverside! There weren’t even enough Jewish men in Phillipi to have a synagogue! Just a few women, and most of them were Gentile converts!

Every morning, orthodox Jewish men would get up and thank God that they weren’t tax collectors, Gentiles, or women – and here were two out of the three! What must Paul have thought? This was certainly NOT what he expected! Did he question God? Did he question his understanding of the call? We don’t know what went through Paul’s mind, but this is what he did – he preached the Gospel to the women AND he baptised Lydia and her whole household, and set out to share the Gospel from there.

We read later in Philippians how special this group of people were to him. Though as a whole they were very poor, the churches of Macedonia (the Thessalonians and the Philippians) did more to sustain and support Paul’s travels than anyone else.

Maybe he questioned what he found when he got there, but God’s plan was perfect!

Maybe you’re questioning where you are today. Maybe you’re wondering if you heard God correctly – but God’s plan is perfect and it will always be for the glory of the kingdom. The real question must be – am I willing to be submissive to His will… or will He have to find another?

Perhaps you are, where you are, for such a time (and mission) as this…

God I pray for those who have said, “this is not what I expected”. Strengthen and encourage them moment by moment that Your will is perfect, and that You will supply their every need as it arises. You won’t provide tomorrow’s provision today – but you meet today’s need – today.

Thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ Name – Amen.


 

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I was looking for a particular devotional and ran across this one. I don’t happen to be dealing with this and this point – but I do so often that the words always ring true.

I decided to share it because someone may need it today… but I hope not.

Faith and Fear

It has been said that “faith and fear cannot live in the same body…” But I know from first hand experience – they can, and often do.

The first time I was acutely aware of this was in June 2003, when our older son was lying near death in the hospital. (For you parents of adult or near-adult children, he was 21 at the time.)

I cried out to God, “Lord I KNOW you can heal him… but is it Your will?” I cried, “Lord, I believe…” and the well-known conclusion of that verse tumbled out, “help Thou my unbelief…”

I’ve said before that I know lots of scripture – I just don’t always know “chapter and verse.” Well, after Joe was healed and home from the hospital, one day I looked up that verse (Mark 9:24) and found that when it was said, the man was speaking in reference to the healing of his child.

A parent and a child… is there any more helpless feeling than to have your child hurting or ill? No matter how old they are, they are still your child. (I’m sure our parents felt that way… perhaps we just never knew it – as our children don’t know it… yet.)

There may be many times when “faith and fear” both take up residence in our hearts, but in instances concerning our children, they are most difficult.

There is that gut-wrenching fear coupled with a breathless anticipation of God’s deliverance; the “I know He can deliver; I know He will deliver; but how, and how long?”

How can both of these feelings exist at once? I don’t know… I just know that they do.

Lord, I believe… help Thou my unbelief…

One ancient commentary said (to paraphrase the 19th Century English) “Only the man’s faith could have revealed the faithlessness in his heart.”

Only our faith can reveal the unfounded power of our fear. Does that remove the fear? No – well, at least in my case it doesn’t. But what it does do is show me that fear has no authority in my life.

I mentioned to my pastor that during a time like this my heart said, “Faith”, but my stomach still wanted to go outside and throw up. His priceless reply was, “Listen to your heart – your stomach doesn’t know any better!”

~~

As I was praying the other day, I started to end with a “thank You for Your great blessings” when I heard “you can’t thank Him yet… He hasn’t answered this prayer!”

To which I replied, “Father, I thank You for the things I cannot see, the answers I do not hear, and the blessings that are yet to come.”

Verse 13 of Hebrews 11 – that great “Faith” chapter – says (The Message) “Each one of these people of faith (O.T. Saints) died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.”

And so are we… “Lord I believe… help Thou my unbelief!”

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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