September 18, 2013
“We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” (2Chronicles 20:12 NLT)
Have you ever faced problems that confronted you with the intolerable, the undeniable, the unthinkable and the impossible? Throughout Hebrew and church history the people of God have often been confronted with these overwhelming realities. Scripture supports the thought that God sometimes not only permits but creates these circumstances (Isaiah 45: 7). According to Isaiah He does this because He wants us to learn that He is our only hope and our only help as we live for Him in this world.
The Word of God teaches that God is our Mentor and He does His most effective mentoring when we are coping with calamities and trials of every possible description. The confession quoted above is proclaiming that the people of God have two problems. They do not know what to do and they do not have the power to do it when they know it.
Scripture tells us God will give us all the wisdom we need when we confess that we do not know what to do (James 1:5). And Scripture teaches that God will give us the power to do what He wants us to do because He is God and He always completes what He begins in us (Philippians 1:6; 2:13).
There are times when it is wrong for us to put God to the test. Then there are times when God invites us to prove Him. God wants to give us the gift of faith. He also wants to give us immeasurable degrees of the grace to overcome the greatest possible obstacles. That’s why He permits and designs calamities or trials that force us to access His all sufficient grace.
November 16, 2012
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes7:14)
Many devout people are confused about prosperity. Some preach and teach a prosperity theology that is pure heresy. It could only receive a hearing in a place like America. It will not receive a hearing in places where devout people suffer poverty and persecution because they believe. Others believe we should feel guilty when we experience prosperity.
Solomon writes that in the day of prosperity we should rejoice and know that our God has given us all things richly to enjoy. And he informs us that in the day of adversity we should consider the profound reality that God has made the one as well as the other. A truth that means much to me is that God is our personal Mentor and He does His most effective mentoring when things are difficult for us.
Now that I am old I spend time looking back over a long life. As I reflect on my relationship with God over more than eight decades I realize that my times of spiritual growth have been times of adversity and my times of spiritual regression and stagnation have been times of prosperity.
Paul wrote that he knew how to be abased and he knew how to abound. He presented a challenge to us. That challenge is that it takes more grace and wisdom to know how to abound than it takes to know how to be abased.
If you are enjoying prosperity I hope you do not feel guilty but rejoice. If you are experiencing adversity let it be a time of effective mentoring from God and a time of growth for you.
August 21, 2012
“It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” (Lamentations 3:27)
There is a lot of interest today in leadership. You can get your Ph. D. in leadership in many universities. I regret that we do not present more opportunities to young people for the rigorous and difficult training that produces leaders. I thank God for the military academies, and the Marines, along with the various kinds of Special Forces like the Seals where young people can be trained to be leaders of our military.
I can now reflect back on many decades since I became a follower of Jesus in 1949. I have come to the conclusion that God is the great Mentor of leaders and He does His most effective mentoring when things are difficult and adversarial. Scripture records God’s method for developing men into the great leaders of the people of God.
His process is described in the poem below by Dale Martin Stone:
“When God wants to drill a man
And thrill a man and skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all his heart
To create so bold a man
That the whole world will be amazed,
Watch his methods. Watch his ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay,
Which only God can understand.
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands.
How God bends, but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses
And with every purpose fuses him,
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out—
God knows what He’s about.”
Is God calling you to be a leader?