All of us are frustrated at times when things don’t make sense—when life doesn’t add up. At these less than enjoyable moments we express our frustrations to God and anyone who’ll listen. But I’ve come to the conclusion that if I get fed up with life’s complexities I’m missing the whole point. If everything made sense on Earth, we wouldn’t need to learn to trust God. If everything we experienced made us happy, we wouldn’t need to receive God’s joy, which is never dependent upon what’s happening. If every mishap were understandable, we wouldn’t need peace that goes beyond understanding. Frankly, if our lives were seamlessly blessed, we’d never be stretched to maturity, and learn to be fully dependent and know the God who holds our future in His loving hands.
Prayers of Agreement
Do you ever feel as if you’re trying to persuade God to do the right thing for you or someone you love? Though each of us can relate to this, it’s more of a prayer of unbelief than faith. The Bible tells us clearly who God is: loving, caring, gracious, powerful, our Healer, our Comforter, everything we could ever hope for in a Person. Yet, for some reason, we find ourselves praying silly prayers like, “God, if you want to, can you help so and so; if you so desire, watch over my children,” as opposed to praying strong, clear prayers in agreement with who God says He is. This leads me to the biblically accurate conclusion: the most powerful prayer I can pray is, “God, I agree! I agree with Your Word!”
I’m a Christian too!
Years ago, after speaking in a church in Southern California, my family and I were about to leave a hotel, when I heard someone yell, “Stop him, he stole her purse!” Fifty feet away, I saw the thief run by, with two guys chasing him. I started to run as well, and because they were tired from having run a few blocks already I was able to catch the thief. Sitting on top of him, waiting for the police to arrive, I figured I’d try and tell him about Jesus. Still breathing heavy I said, “I know God brought me to you because I’m a Christian.” Immediately, his eyes got wide and he shot back, “I’m a Christian too!” Though I was startled, considering the age we live in, I wasn’t totally surprised. It brought to light, perhaps the challenge of our day, am I representing Jesus in a way that truly does justice to who He is and the marvelous rescuing work He’s done in my life?
Dig a Ditch
Are you thirsty for God? We all should be. In 2 Kings 3, the armies of Israel and Judah were out of water for seven days. They were literally: dying of thirst. So, they contacted the prophet Elisha, and he told them to ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water…this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord…” “Now it happened in the morning…that suddenly water came…and the land was filled with water.” (2 Kings 3:16-18a, 20, NKJV) Are you out of water? Dig a ditch…sow a seed…obey God’s Word! He’s the God of happy endings. He wants to bless you.
Is God Playing Got-cha?
Do you believe God primarily focuses on the mistakes you’ve made, or is He trying to heal you and protect you from destroying your life? Is He playing, “Got-cha!” or trying to “Help-ya?” When Adam and Eve sinned, God first said to them, “Where are you?” not “What have you done?” God’s far more concerned about our relationship with Him, than anything bad we’ve done. He’s first a Dad who wants to help and protect. That’s why the Bible says, “The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.” (Psalm 121:7, NLT) Since we all sin, it’s vital that we know when we blow it, we can run to God and not away from Him. We should turn ourselves in, and not wait to be caught. No one cares more about you than Jesus.
This age is the wild west of moral ambiguity, where everyone does what’s right in their own eyes. But without the biblical compass of good and evil, truth and lies, who determines what’s right and wrong? Without divine discernment, we choose if our babies live or die. We determine if selling the body parts of babies is right or wrong. We decide if lions and whales are more valuable than babies created in the image and likeness of our Creator God. We determine our gender. We choose when we want to die. We judge whom we want to give ourselves to physically. We decide what our eyes should see and what our hearts should embrace. In the end, we become counterfeit creators, created in the image of our vain imaginations, putting our hope in what can never fulfill or come to pass.
Ours is the age of little discernment. Compare Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary definition of the word “discern.” He wrote, “to see or understand the difference…between good and evil, truth and falsehood.” What a tremendous definition! Unfortunately, modern editors corrupted it. The 2015 version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines discern: “to recognize or identify right from wrong.” No longer is it “to see or understand the difference…between good and evil, truth and falsehood.” With good and evil, truth and lies taken out of this definition, we’re left with personal preference, and no resemblance to absolute truth at all. Ironically, this supposed, “new and improved” definition of discern completely lacks discernment. Jesus admonishes each of us, “See that no one leads you astray.” (Matthew 24:4, ESV)
Encyclical By Pope Francis
A recent Encyclical by Pope Francis focused on many things, not just Climate Change. He wrote at length about Creation having a Creator, valuing the difference between masculinity and femininity, looking up from our phones and encountering one another, saving the baby humans, and stopping the cynicism, secularism and immorality. The news media may never report it, but it was biblical food-for-thought. May we each have the courage to affirm what is eternally true, and not just cherry-pick what is politically correct or applauded by society and its ever-changing moral standards. As Jesus promised, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, ESV) Or, may I add, become passé: God’s truth will never become “out of date.”
Sir Julian Huxley, the grandson of Thomas Huxley, known as “Darwin’s bulldog,” and brother of Aldous Huxley’s, author of, “Brave New World,” was considered the premier evolutionist in the world. Once, Sir Julian was asked in a TV interview: “Why do you think that Evolution caught on so quickly?” His answer was startling, “We all jumped at the Origin of the Species because (“…the evidence uncovered by Darwin was so scientifically compelling that we were forced by pure reason to accept the facts as true.” Is that what he said? NO!) His response was, “We all jumped at the origin of the species because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.” “Our sexual mores” = “our sexual morality,” “our sex lives.” You mean, the origin of Evolution isn’t purely scientific? Hardly, it was anti-religious, anti-moral, and anti-God right from the beginning.
The Satisfied Life
If my life on Earth is not enough to satisfy me, then I’m obviously missing how God wants me to process my life. This is confirmed in the book of 2nd Peter, which says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him…” (2 Peter 1:3, NLT) God has given me everything I need to live a satisfied life. Additionally, if my future in Heaven is not captivating enough to make me long to be there, then I am not discerning what Heaven will really be like. 1st Peter adds, “…we have a priceless inheritance…that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” (1 Peter 1:3-4, NLT) All of this encourages me to love the life God has prepared for me both now and forever.
God’s Good News Covers All Bad News
Have you ever thought: “There are so many bad things happening in my life, nothing good could ever come out of it?” Maybe this next thought will comfort you. The good news of the gospel is good enough to cover all of the bad news in your life. As God is bigger than my problems, His plan for my future won’t just work for my good, it will make me the person I really would want to be if I was in my right mind and trusted Him completely. We make the gospel bad news when we focus on what we’re not, and what God has not yet fulfilled in us. But, we keep the gospel “good news,” as He intended, when we concentrate on who Jesus is, our God and Savior, and not our sins and short-comings.
Character is Not a Consolation Prize
Did you ever wonder: what’s the main goal of being a Christ-follower? If you don’t know what it is, you will never hit the target. So here it is: The primary goal of following Jesus is to become like Him. The fact is—being like Jesus isn’t the pinstripes on a car. It’s the engine. Character is not a consolation prize. It’s the main event. Romans 8:29 says, that God chose us to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Our becoming like Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s original intention: creating us in the image and likeness of God. So, the next time you complain about your struggles, remember they are helping shape you into the person you were created to be.