Adversity can be a burden or a bridge.
God the Holy Spirit is the Editor and I am privileged to be His scribe. So, I have the thrill of hearing His Words as He teaches, directs and guides me. I am highly privileged, truly blessed and very thankful.
Jesus has just told His disciples that one of them will betray Him, Peter will deny Him and He is going to leave them. So, it is rather startling to hear Him say (John 14:1) “Don’t let your hearts be troubled”. Of course, their hearts were troubled, how could they not be? They were so deeply troubled they could not hear (Matthew 16:21) what He said about his resurrection. (Dr. Stanley) explained that the actual words were - - “No longer let your hearts be troubled”. He didn’t want them to keep on being troubled but to believe. Jesus knows that you and I will face things that upset us, trouble us, make us fearful, sometimes we are blind-sided and our internal instinctive reactions are most troubling. We cannot help or control being troubled but we don’t have to stay there and keep on being troubled. Our first word should be “Father”. There is a difference, a great difference between the peace the world gives and the peace Jesus gives.
The peace the world gives is a shifting peace which depends on circumstances. But the peace Jesus gives is a stable peace and depends on relationship with Him and it is never affected by any kind of circumstances. We know Him, we know that He is in control, we know that he will never (Hebrews 13:5) leave us, we know that He will work all things out (Romans 8:28) for our good and therefore (Philippians 4:7) His peace fills our hearts and minds - - no matter what.
The Sovereign Lord can use anything in all Creation that He chooses to achieve His plan and Purpose. (Dr Swindoll) mentioned the change in Habakkuk so I took another look at this Book. Habakkuk had come from (Habakkuk 1:5-11) worry and fear to (Habakkuk 3:17-19) rejoicing and song. The Lord uses (Habakkuk 1:6-13) the wicked Chaldeans to punish sinful Israel and the heathen Chaldeans would receive due punishment (Habakkuk 2:3) at God’s appointed time.
Pause to consider the magnificence of God’s Sovereignty. He used the heathen Chaldeans to punish Israel and He stirred up Cyrus, a heathen king, (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezekiel 1-3, Isaiah 44:28) to bless Israel. He used a burning bush to call Moses and lions to test Daniel’s faith, I forget who said that He used Roman soldiers to crucify His own beloved Son. How could Habakkuk come from fear, worry and wondering about God’s protection to rejoicing and song? Not because the Lord changed or improved the circumstances, He didn’t, but because he began to understand God’s never-failing, never-interrupted, never-ending Sovereignty. He is the God Who declares (Isaiah 46:9-10) the end from the beginning.
The wonder of God’s all-controlling Sovereign power and the perfect goodness of His holy purpose finally gripped Habakkuk’s understanding so that he could say (Habakkuk 2:14) the time is coming when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
What about us in these perilous times? Many people see their days as filled with depression and foreboding. If Habakkuk’s fig tree never blossoms and if for us COVID-19 never ends and its variants continue to increase - if we live in the light and beauty and security and reality of God’s unchanging sovereignty - - to our multiplied trials the Lord multiplies His kingdom peace. We will join Habakkuk and still praise our God.
I was goose-bumpy excited this morning by something the Lord told me, a new insight about sowing and reaping. God promised health, wealth and prosperity to Israel (Deuteronomy 30:15-16) if they obeyed Him in His commandments and in the sacrifices, offerings and laws. However, for the Church the Lord has a different plan. Our needs (Mark 6:31-33) will be met along with (1 Peter 4:12) fiery trials and (2 Timothy 3:12) persecution. So where will be the bountiful harvest? This is the exciting part of the plan. Not only will we reap more than we sow but we will reap where we sow. If you plant carrots in your garden, when they are ripe for picking, you don’t go across the road to gather them from a neighbour’s backyard. Just say I donate, plant, sow some money for a specific Wycliffe Project, the harvest will be reaped in that specific Wycliffe Project. The same marvelous principle holds true when we pray. If you are sowing prayer for a relative the harvest will blossom in that relative’s life. If you are sowing prayer for a situation in Africa the harvest will be realized in that situation in Africa. (Dr. Stanley) “Anything we hope to accomplish will only be accomplished by prayer”.
Never give up on prayer. Be patient. Wait for God’s timing for the harvest and pray for an abundant harvest. Never give up on tithes, offerings and love-offerings to the Lord. In the parable of the Sower (Mark 4:8) the harvest was sometimes 40%, sometimes 60% and sometimes 100%. Let’s trust the Lord by the way we sow our time, money, interests, prayers, so that we will reap 100% to the glory of God. Jesus told us (John 14:12-17) that we would do greater works by prayer in His Name and authority because after His Ascension to the Father, He would send the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us forever. There are no limitations or time constraints on prayer because with God it is always NOW.
(Dr. Stanley) “Adversity can be a burden or a bridge. A burden will weigh you down under the circumstances but a bridge will lead you to a deeper relationship with God”. Many years ago, when I was a young child, I heard a hymn that was an old one even back then. It often comes to my mind because it holds the secret which protects me from the burden of the circumstances and adversity trap. If my circumstances dominate in me, then I will be trapped. Listen to the old hymn – listen - and be free.
I entered once a home of care,
Old age and penury were there;
Peace and joy withal
I asked the lowly mother whence
Her lonely widows recompense,
She answered, “Christ is All”
All in all, All in all,
Yes Christ is All in all,
All in all, All in all.
Yes, CHRIST is ALL in all.
One morning recently just as I was getting out of bed, these thoughts were filling my mind; I want a deepening sense and awareness of my holy privilege in holding the Living Word and the growing knowledge and the personal intimate Presence of my God, Who is both transcendent and imminent. The Sovereign God is far beyond, unknowable, unreachable and yet He is also very precious, so very near and dear. I am privileged to have been created because the Lord did not create me without a loving plan and purpose for me. I’m beginning to understand why God allows things in my life which I cannot understand. It is so that (Galatians 4:19) Christ will be completely and permanently formed in me.
There are 3 Great Exchanges which are essential to the Christian life. Jesus exchanged (John 17:5) the glory, honour, joy, worship of heaven for the (Hebrews 12:2-3) rejection, abuse, torture and crucifixion on the Cross in this world. He willingly suffered the deeply painful years (Isaiah 53:3) of his exchange to make it possible for the Father to exchange (2 Corinthians 5:21) God’s righteousness for my sin. This qualifies me to receive the exchanged life which is (Colossians 1:27, Colossians 3:4) Christ in me is my very life so that (Philippians 1:21) for me to live is Christ, His life in me. The risen Lord Jesus lives His very own life in me and through me as I obediently yield to Him in constant dependence on the Holy Spirit. If Jesus had not been willing to endure the agony of the Great Exchange, the second and third would never have been possible and I would have been an eternal stranger to salvation. The Son of God became like us (Hebrews 2:17) so that we could become like Him. I wish I could find words to even slightly describe the indescribable selflessness, sacrifice, purity and God-revealing beauty of JESUS.