Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Making Sense of the Difficult Days"

"Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky, stormy weather". This is a line probably most of us know from an old 1933 song entitled, "Stormy Weather". The song popped into my head several months ago as I was praying. It made me laugh but it was truly no laughing matter.

Before I had my breast biopsy or knew I had breast cancer, I found myself meditating on more than a couple dozen Bible passages as Scripture flooded my mind. Looking back, I know the Lord was preparing me for the storm that was about to come.

Sometimes when difficult times come and we're in a storm all we can see is the rain and the clouds, the doom and the gloom. It seems we've lost our compass and don't know if we'll live to see the day; we're sinking fast, or so we think.
But the "Son" is right behind those clouds. He's there, the Lord Jesus Christ, navigating us through those tempestuous waters, speaking peace to the storm and seeing us safely to shore. He invites us to step out of that topsy-turvy boat that can no longer contain or sustain us and meet Him on what seems to be an impossible surface to stand on, let alone walk on.

When the Lord beckoned Peter to step out of the boat, he was doing fine walking on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and stopped to look around at the blowing winds and monstrous waves about to swallow him up. Hey, I give the guy credit though. At least he got out of the boat, but the Lord wanted to bring Him farther to pursue the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. In order for this to happen a change has to take place in us that we may be able to contain the “new wine” that the Lord is desiring to pour into us.

(Phi. 3:12-14, Mat. 9:16-17)

The Lord teaches us obedience and brings us to a place of complete dependence upon Him, maturing and perfecting us even in the difficult places, through the storms of life, to weather them together as we are focused on Him and His truths. I thank Him that as I look to His Word He promises to transform me more into His image and renew my mind. He changes us from glory to glory, giving us understanding of the will of the Lord, enabling us to walk holy and acceptable before God and in our service to Him. 

(Heb. 5:8-9, Rom. 12:1-2, 2 Cor. 3:18)

Though at times it may seem that chaos, confusion and trouble abound, our God is a God of peace and comes reassuring us that no weapon formed against us will prosper but is only forged for our profit that we may become partakers of His holiness, yielding the peaceable fruits of His righteousness. 

(Isa. 54:16-17, Rom. 5:3-5, Heb. 12:1-11)

There are places where we have been marred, hurt, wounded, or perhaps we have allowed weeds to crop up. But the Lord has named us a new creation and has come to make us whole in Christ Jesus. He is pruning us to form us into new vessels as we hear His call to come and abide and surrender entirely to His lordship. Each of us is being fashioned by God, His workmanship, designed for His specific purpose that the fruit we bear may be abundant.
(Jer. 18:1-6, Jhn. 15:1-2, 2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 2:10)

The Lord comes filling with joy and equipping with faith, enabling us to stand steadfast and resolute in our commitment and devotion to Him, even if for a time we suffer, rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God made manifest in our mortal bodies by the power of His Holy Spirit. For we have this treasure in earthen vessels and so we die to the things of the flesh; we partake of His sufferings that His Kingdom may come even through His chosen ones to the glory of God. 

(Jas. 1:2-4, 1 Pet. 1:6-7, 2 Cor. 4:7-11, Phi. 3:7-11)

We humble and submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God understanding that in all points Jesus was tempted as we, yet remained sinless. We resist every temptation, coming to the everlasting God, full of mercy and grace to help in our time of need, who has made a way of escape through the blood covenant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s been where we are and fully knows our hearts.  (1 Pet. 5:6-11, 
1 Cor. 10:13, Heb. 4:14-16)

And so, we remain alert and watchful, not as those who sleep, that we may be wise as serpents and gentle as doves, resisting, renouncing and casting down every enemy of our souls, walking in the Spirit, assured of God's promises, made firm, stable and unmovable in Him no matter the gale force winds, for we are settled in Christ.  
(2 Cor. 10:3-6, Gal. 5:16-18)

Oh, but you say, "I'm in the pit", but God sees and delivers you and would use you to save many people alive. Trust in the sovereign plans and purposes of God. Oh, but you say, "I'm at the brink of disaster, so much has been lost, so much is destroyed." But God would say, "I would increase and multiply for all your loss and restore more than at the first." Oh, but you say, "Daily I die and thirst in a barren land." But God would say, "My grace is sufficient, My strength made perfect in your weakness and I shall provide pools in the desert places, setting you on the road that I have carved out in the wilderness leading to My glory and My kingdom established in you."
(2 Cor. 12:7-10, Isa. 43:18-19)

I'm reminded of Paul who went through so many hardships. He did not turn aside from his faithful devotion to the Lord though he was warned of the perils that awaited him. Even when he was unjustly accused, beaten and thrown into prison, he found occasion to sing praise to God. He looked for and found opportunity after opportunity to continue in the ministry God had given him to proclaim His truth. None of his circumstances deterred or caused him to lose his focus. He was content in plenty or in want, affliction or health, hungry or full; he was satisfied in the Lord.
(Acts 16:22-34, 2 Cor. 11:22-28, Phi. 4:11-13,
Acts 21:10-13)

Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and later unjustly accused and sent to prison as well, but even there God prospered Him. Throughout it all God continued to develop his character, delivered him from chains and raised him up at just the precise time in history to be over all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, that many would be saved from what would have otherwise been sure destruction. 

(Gen., chapters, 37, 39-50)

I think of Job and his devastating losses. He lost all his livestock and all ten of his children in one day; he lost his health. Scripture tells us how Job responded - 'Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.' And he said: “ Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. 

(Job, chapters, 1, 2 & 42)

Do you ever feel like enemies are all around you and everything is coming at you at once? Well, I know I have! There have been times when I've been overwhelmed by the vast enemy army surrounding me. Then, even as the eyes of Elisha’s servant were opened, the Lord allows me to see His heavenly angels who far outnumber my foes, protecting and fighting on my behalf. 

(2 Kgs. 6:8-18)

Today, months after I first began this study, I'm still meditating on these Scriptures, trusting the Lord to faithfully guide me through one of the most challenging times of my life. He continues to speak to my innermost being through His Word that brings healing and makes me whole - mind, body, soul and spirit.

So I'll let the songs arise, knowing my victory is assured, continuing to ask for eyes to see, grateful to my Lord and King for the opportunities He arranges for the glory of the Lord to be released in power, in what we may consider to be some of the most unlikeliest of places and circumstances. May we be formed His vessels of honor.

Matthew 14:28-31 - And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Matthew 8:23-26 - Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

(Though there are numerous other Scriptures throughout this devotional, I encourage you to open up to each one and let this become an in-depth study, allowing the Holy Spirit to unfold the mysteries of God more fully to you, that you may “walk on the water” with Him, victoriously coming through every test and trial and storm.)

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