How long, Lord?Will you forget me forever?How long will you hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day
have sorrow in my heart?
Have you ever spoken words to God which sound as profane as that?Not ever?Suppose I told you that this was part of a prayer by King David in Psalm 13, how would you answer then?In fact, questioning God is not as sacrilegious as you may think.
Here are two true stories from people who admit to questioning God:
A Woman’s Story:“I never thought I would feel abondoned by God. But lately I have questioned everything He stands for. Having a child at 14 has made me a very strong but guarded individual. Growing up in a traditional Hispanic Catholic home was very confusing. Both parents fighting all the time, putting up a front when we went to church on Sundays... seemed a bit hypocritical.I have prayed/begged for so many years that He will guide me in the right direction... I continue to wait and nothing!Why does God allow hard working people to be treated this way?”
A Man’s Story:“I didn't grow up in church, but had an inner feeling & 'knowledge' that God existed. I spent my teen years seeking Him out. I've accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, and been baptized in water & by the Holy Spirit... Yet now in my life at the tender young age of 32 I am undoubtedly losing any faith…that god cares about anything other than what he wants...God answers whatever prayers He wants to, when He wants to. 'Seek & ye shall, find, knock & it shall be opened unto you, ask & ye shall receive', a bunch of baloney!All of my seeking, knocking, & asking have been answered with disappointment, doors slammed in my face, finding absolutely nothing, & better off getting an answer from a pile of (horse manure)!So many unanswered prayers!”
Your situation may not be as dramatic but you still find yourself with questions.Don’t be embarrassed, ashamed or shocked by them.“Learn to love the question and then maybe you’ll live yourself into the answers.”That’s the premise of David Dark in his book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything.
David said in an interview with Gloria Gaither (Homecoming Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2010), “I think questioning is a pilgrimage…that a relationship without questions is not a relationship, and in our relationship to God, questioning is permissible; actually, I see it as a kind of biblical imperative.”
Beloved, if we are merely reciting old answers to new questions that someone else has provided then we have quit growing because we are no longer a seeker of God.“Redemptive skepticism” is only a sin if we look for our solutions in places other than the Word of God.Stop relying on stale answers you read from a book or boring platitudes you hear from a prosperity pulpit!
Discover again the challenge and JOY of seeking answers which result in spiritual growth because you have questioned God with reverence and integrity.Then you will say with King David,
“I trust in your unfailing love…
My heart rejoices in your salvation…
I will sing to the Lord,
For he has been good to me.”
GospeLines Prayer:Father, in Your image You have made us.You allow me to be inquisitive without hearing it as blasphemy; You let me wonder about suffering babies, natural disasters, war, and even permit my questions about poverty and evil.You listen to me fuss when my selfish prayers go unanswered, and You show divine patience when I stubbornly argue about some of the prayers you do answer.Thank You, Lord, for helping me to grow…”I trust in your unfailing love.”Amen and amen.
What’s your vision of an Angel?Childhood depictions sometimes stay etched in our brains for a long time.My good friend says she’s one, but I respond with good humor.That can’t possibly be as one wing is broken, her halo tilts, the dress is a bit tattered and a string or two is missing from her lyre.We usually break out laughing and she doth protest.
This scenario came to mind after reading a devotional about a noted jazz pianist who played the wrong chord during a performance.His mentor was playing with him and was able to play around the “alleged” mistake.The pianist later apologized to his mentor, but the mentor reminded him that with God, there are no wrong chords.He just created something new and wonderful!
Truth be told, my friend is an Angel to me.If my car was out of commission, she loaned me Junior (yes, her car has a name); she’s taken me for medical procedures; she’s listened when I’ve needed an ear; she’s tagged along on some of my exploits; and, we’ve broken bread together many times over the years.
I am humbled to say that I have several Angels who’ve propped me up when my halo and I were leaning; when my dress was tattered; when I thought I could no longer soar; and when the music was (temporarily) silenced.
Despite the wrong chords, God continues to make beautiful music.I shout and dance His praises in joyful thankfulness.
While I created a rather humorous picture, God used it to remind us that He’s still in the blessing business.I pray that I have been an Angel to someone else, despite my imperfections.
Prayer:Father, thank You for reminding us that there are no wrong chords. We are imperfect beings, but strengthened in the knowledge that You love us and undergird us through those Angels you put along our path.
Thank You for making a new and beautiful melody, despite our playing the wrong chords.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Mystery of Prayer
Why does God make me knock before He will open the door?He is all power and all knowledge.God needs no help from anyone to open doors for His children, and every circumstance of tomorrow He has known since before the foundation of the world.Why, then, does He require me to ask Him for what He knows I already need?Why is it necessary for me to pray before God acts?
Watchman Nee says that this is the great mystery, “that God’s people must pray before God himself will rise up and work:His will is only to be realized through the prayers of those who belong to Him.”
No, we do not force God to do anything He hasn’t already planned to do, and prayer doesn’t change the will of God.But it does put His will into action.Only when we have prayed in the will of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, does He open the gates of heaven and pour out blessings abundantly!“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt. 18:18.
It is the plan of God to effect the work of God when His children pray in the will of God.
Beloved, doors are shut and opened on earth and in heaven through the power of prayer.Seek the heart of your Father when you pray.And pray in the sympathy of His will, and the showers of blessings through answered prayer will flow down upon you.
GospeLines Prayer:"Give me grace, Father, to throw open all the doors of my life that you may cease knocking and enter into every crevice of my soul.I forever unlock the hidden places and surrender the keys to You.
Give me listening ears, O God, that I may hear Your voice calling me to higher endeavors.
Give me an open mind, O God, one that is ready to receive and welcome new ideas and knowledge as it is Your will to reveal.
Give me open eyes, O God, eyes that are quick to discover how You indwell Your creation.May all things fill me with gladness and rejoicing over Your everlasting handiwork.
Give me open hands, O God, hands ready to both receive thankfully and share unselfishly all You are, and all You have given me.Let my possessions be Yours to use as You wish."Amen and amen.
“I know you!We were in high school together!How long has it been… 40 years…?”
"Let’s see… the formula for the area of a circle is , right…?”
“I’m pretty sure the Apostle Paul’s lament about his inability to do what he knew was right is in Romans… the 7th chapter… maybe toward the end of the chapter…”
Do statements like these sound familiar?We hear or say things every day that involves our ability to recall things we’ve learned or experienced in the past.We may not consciously think of it; but, we use our memory constantly.In many ways, our memory makes us who we are.
We use our memory when we wake up (“Let’s see, what have I got to do today?”); when we go to work (“I think I’ll avoid the freeway today - traffic was terrible yesterday.”); and even when we eat (“That fish didn’t set well with me last week; I think I’ll have the chicken today.”).
What if suddenly, we couldn’t trust our memory?How would we cope?
A dear friend was recently diagnosed with dementia.Since this condition can have many forms, his doctors recommended several tests to discover what type he has.
While standing in the doctor's office and looking out a window, his heart and mind became flooded with God's wisdom.He turned around and told his wife that he wasn't going to go through the tests.
“What difference does it make” he asked?“There is no cure, and not even a means to slow it down.I’ll just have to adjust, adapt, and overcome.”His wife and doctor (who is a very devout Christian) both agreed.
The shock of facing such a diagnosis scared my friend.He allowed worry about his family and his ministry (he’s a pastor) to cause him to react with fear and ominous foreboding… and to forget to seek God’s will first.After leaving the doctor’s office and allowing the peace and joy of the Lord to drive out the fear and worry, he wrote these words to me:
“I know things are going to change in different stages.It's the nature of the beast.The Lord has given me confidence that I will again adapt, adjust, and overcome.So, please, no more expressions of concern. Your prayers and e-mails drove me to seek the face of God and He was ready for me.”
“He was ready for me!”What wonderful and soul satisfying words.God was ready to take on all the troubles and fears of my friend and God is ready to take on yours.
From here on, regardless of what happens concerning my dear friend’s dementia, I am convinced that he will be ok.As he said, there is no cure or even a means to slow its progress; but, he’ll be ok because he has laid it all at the foot of the cross and has now completely and totally placed his life, his ministry, his family and his future in God’s hands.
At some time in our lives, most of us will face a future that’s filled with the unknown.Our natural reaction is to react as did my friend, with fear and foreboding.Let’s pray that each of us are blessed with the same flood of God's wisdom; and, in that flood, turn to Him.As the words of the song “Made Me Glad” by Hillsong so aptly proclaim:
You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer, My Shelter, Strong Tower, my very present help in time of need.
To hear Made Me Glad performed, please click on the link below
“Transplants” who move to Texas learn quickly that football is king during the Fall.It’s a good time for a story about the grand old sport from people who helped make it what it is today.
Before the demise of the Southwest Conference, in the fall of 1964, Darrell Royal (University of Texas football coach) held a postgame press conference after one of the worst defeats of his career. Arkansas had knocked off No. 1 Texas, unbeaten in its last 15 starts.
Frank Broyles (University of Arkansas football coach), and his Razorbacks had boarded their charter plane and were heading home when Royal began fielding questions. Frank's parting words were: "Sorry I can't stay for the press conference, fellows, but anything Darrell says goes for me."
Asked about a friendship that had stood the best and worst of times, Royal momentarily shed the agony of a 14-13 loss, and replied: "We've had a good rivalry. Anything Frank tells me, I know to be true. I trust him and have confidence in him." (Houston Chronicle, 08-14-02)
Do you have someone you can trust like that? I have a couple of friends whom I have known for awhile.We will connect by telephone and talk about everything and nothing.When it’s time to say our goodbyes, we both say "I love you," and we really mean it. These men are true brothers and we have a history and friendship that transcends differences and periods of silence between us. They are there for me, and I am here for them...it will always be that way.
Beloved, be encouraged that you have a best friend. His name is Jesus! Through trials and difficulties, on the mountaintops and through the valleys, in victory or in defeat...He is there for you. Be reminded today that He loves you unconditionally, He will be your light in darkness, your safe harbor through the storms you face, and He is the first to congratulate you in your successes and your triumphs. Glory!
GospeLines Prayer: Father, I love You for all You because you are God, but I don't know if I have ever told You how much I cherish our friendship. You have stood up for me in difficult situations, chastised me when I was wrong, cried with me when my heart ached, bandaged me when I stumped my toe, and stayed with me through sleepless nights. Thank you for being the very best Friend I have ever had. Amen and amen.