For me, there is a real comfort in having a plan. Yes, I like to feel that life is orderly. I keep a calendar, do many of the same things, at the same time, each day. But, no matter how carefully the plans are laid, we can be sure that there will be surprises; am I right? It’s time to leave for work and the car won’t start. The stock market tumbles, taking the value of your 401(k) plan with it. The doctor tells you that pain in your stomach is cancer. Your position at work is eliminated and you have 90 days to find a new job.
How do you respond to those ‘surprises?’ I confess that my natural way is to become tense, sometimes even angry. When larger things in my life feel out of control I unconsciously start looking for ways to ‘take control’ in other areas. God wants me to choose differently – to trust, to wait, to exercise faith. He offers us an invitation – “Trust Me!” Will we?
The lesson that Paul gives us in his letter to the Christians in Philippi is as applicable today as it was when he wrote it. The theme of the letter is joy, which is even more amazing when we understand that he penned it from a prison in Rome. He was not there not for some crime. He was falsely accused of treason because he preached about Christ, Savior and Lord. Paul had not planned for this, but he trusts God.
So, he tells us – “I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.” (Philippians 1:12-14, The Message) Before you dismiss his words as just being ‘relentlessly positive,’ read them again. Paul is not jumping for joy that he is suffering in prison, but he is able to look past his troubles and see that God is using what appeared to be a detour to accomplish Kingdom purposes!
Sometimes we toss off the following verse like a ‘happy talk’ meme, but it should be a cornerstone of personal faith. Paul, inspired by the Spirit, teaches us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29, NIV)
Our majestic Father, in the mystery of His will, is completely able to use ‘all things’ for His purposes in my life, and yours, too. What is that purpose? To shape us into the likeness of our Savior. The word says the worst life brings our way – death’s valley- can be a place where we experience God’s peace. Read it! “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, NIV)
Frustrations will come today – big and small. If you are living close to Him, if your heart is seeking His kingdom; then remind yourself that it is His day. Thank Him for the promise that He is working in it for your good to accomplish His purpose. When you’re tempted to complain or curse, to desperately attempt to hang onto control of your life, look up and pray: “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, NIV) As Christ Jesus is allowed to be Lord of this day, you will not only know greater peace, you will also allow a greater holiness to shine through.
The word from the Word is a song from the Psalms. Do not race through it. Meditate, prayerfully, on each line – seeing the Providence and Power of the Lord’s ways.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:1-7, NIV)
“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.” (Psalm 37:39-40, NIV)
Trust! Delight! Commit! Be Still!
(worship along at this link)
You are good You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love You are love
On display for all to see
You are light You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope You are hope
You have covered all my sin
You are peace You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life You are life
In You death has lost its sting
(Oh) I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign
You are more You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here You are here
In Your presence I’m made whole
You are God You are God
Of all else I’m letting go
My heart will sing no other Name
Jason Ingram | Reuben Morgan © 2009 Hillsong Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) So Essential Tunes (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)
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