Tag Archives: Midst

God in the Furnace

It’s often hard to see God, to see his hand, his work in our lives. It’s often hard to sense his presence, but for the believer he’s ever present. In fact, he says he will never leave us, but most of the time we don’t sense his presence, we aren’t aware of his care.For me it’s the busy life I live that makes his voice hard to hear, his face hard to see. I don’t take the time to quiet my mind and heart to listen, to see him ever with me.The times when God is most visible, the times when we see him the most clearly are times of test, times of trial. It’s in those refining moments the ever present one is most clearly seen….with us even in the heat of the trial.As I read Daniel 3 this morning, the story of Daniel’s friends and their trial by fire, the ever present one is unseen until Daniel’s friends are in the midst of the flames. In those refining moments, in the furnaces of our lives, God’s presence is most clearly seen. It’s in those moments when we desperately need to see him. In the midst of the trial our questions abound, in the midst of the heat we need him most. Has he brought us to this trial to destroy us? Is he punishing us for our sins? Why is this happening to us?

And in the midst of the furnace God is with us. He never leaves us. Last night I was with a family in the furnace of a lifetime. It’s a trial by fire to be sure. This is when they most need God’s presence, his care, his love. It’s in their furnace that they will see him. He is always with us, always caring for us….even in the furnace of trials.

But why trials? Why use the furnace to make himself known and seen? It’s because in the furnace no one can help us but God. As the king said to Daniel’s friends, “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” The king has defined the test- Is there a God who can deliver from the furnace? Is there someone to help when the trials of life overwhelm? The answer from the furnace is “YES! I’m here with you. Don’t worry, I will take care of you.”

The God of glory is always with us working for our good and his glory. In the midst of your furnace God is with you making himself known to you and seen by the world. In the midst of the furnace all other distractions are burned away and we see the ever present God who is always with us.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Hard Hearts And Stiff Necks

There are two things I see in scripture that cause us problems- hard hearts and stiff necks.
Hard hearts describe people who are insensitive to God’s voice and untouched by his work in their lives. They simply don’t see or sense him, his voice, or his conviction.

Stiff necks describe people who are, even knowing what God wants from them, unwilling to change directions, unwilling to repent. They have set their course and will not “turn their necks,” change their minds or direction.

I’m thinking about this because I’m reading a passage, studying a portion of scripture where I see the disciples witnessing some of the most amazing miracles of all history and seems untouched, unaffected by them. They had hardened their hearts. They had become insensitive to God’s amazing work in their midst.
I wonder….I wonder how hard my heart is. I wonder what God is doing in my life, around me, speaking to me and I simply don’t hear it, sense it, feel his presence. This is a dangerous place to be because we don’t realize that a hardness has developed in our lives and our relationship with God. I wonder if my stiff neck, my unwillingness to change my course is made worse by my hard heart?

These are my challenges. These are your challenges. I pray that my heart will be soft to God, sensitive to his touch, responsive to his voice. I pray that I will not be so stubborn that I can’t change, can’t turn my neck to God’s directions in my life. I’m thinking about this because 12 men who lived for three years in the very presence of God on earth struggled with it. I know I do to.

Lord, soften my heart, massage my stiff neck. Help me to respond quickly, to hear well your voice and respond to your leading in my life.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Suicide Bombers

You read about them daily in the news. They cause fear and devastation when they strike. Their tactics change lives forever, including their own. They are called suicide bombers.

It’s a recent term to describe a growing trend…people willing to destroy themselves to hurt others. Their beliefs are so strong that they are willing to give their own lives for their cause. They are called suicide bombers.

All around me are people I call by the same name. They are people who would never see themselves in this way, but they are…like the suicide bomber….willing to destroy themselves in their attempt to hurt and destroy their marriage, their mate and others. I call them suicide bombers.

They would tell me “I just want to be happy” and so they justify the decisions they make. In the process they destroy their home, their family and unknown to them they destroy themselves. I call them suicide bombers.

They look normal enough to those around them. They don’t have bombs strapped to their waist, but they are on a mission to destroy and they do. What they don’t realize is they will be part of the destruction that results. I call them suicide bombers.

In their attempt to control, cause fear, change their situation, rule another person they actually destroy their own life.

I got a call this morning about a suicide bomber in our midst. The story I heard would be funny if it weren’t so sad. In a rage a wife made a horrible choice and drove her car over her husband’s motorcycle….THREE TIMES! I call her a suicide bomber.

In her anger and rage at her husband, she destroyed her marriage, his motorcycle, and her own life as well. She may not realize it yet, but the one that was hurt the most was her.

She wouldn’t trust God to work, she wouldn’t wait for his timing, so she dealt with thisherself! Whatever her thoughts or motives she blew up her own life and destroyed everything around her.

How different is this from those with the real bombs around their waist? Their goal is to hurt, destroy and cause fear at the price of their own life.

The result? Chaos, destruction, hurt, death of marriages, homes demolished, lives in shambles. Who would be willing to do such things?

There is a certain insanity that comes with being a suicide bomber….whether you use explosives or your car, a car bomb or a divorce attorney, bullets or an affair the results are the same, lives are destroyed, homes are demolished, families blown up, lives forever changed. Most of all yours.

Suicide bombers don’t always need explosives to accomplish their task. Sometimes it’s as simple as sin having its way in a life. Always, in every case, destruction will follow. And the one hurt the worst? The suicide bomber himself.

Romans 6:21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

But God…

One of the great statements of the bible is summed up in just two words, “But God…”

In those two small words tragedy turns to triumph, problems are explained, sadness has hope, and we are not left without answers. God is involved in our world, in our lives. God is the great problem solver, course changer, sorrow solution. When an answer is needed, when grief seems beyond bearing, when questions overwhelm us then comes these words from scripture, “but God” and suddenly everything changes. Here are a few of those moments from the bible, Continue reading But God…

Walking in the shadow lands

“Even when I walk through the shadow lands, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” -David, Psalm 23

I had coffee with a good friend this morning who is struggling with depression. It grieved me to see him in the midst of the shadow lands. It’s a hard place to live. I know. I grew up in the shadow lands. Depression is part of my heritage and a frequent part of my life. It’s not unusual for me to spend weeks in the shadow lands before I see the light of a clear day.

It was hard to see my friend struggling. He had never visited the shadow lands before. It’s difficult the first time. Depression is overwhelming if you have never experienced it before. It eats away at your energy, dulls your mind and makes the very nerves of your body tender. Walking through the shadow lands is a skill reluctantly learned, unwillingly done, but a wonderful blessing as you see God work in your life.

I gave my friend some tools to use as he walks through the shadow lands. They are simple things, but they really help. I’m praying for him. I’m praying that he, like David, myself and thousand of others, discovers that God is close beside him. That his rod and staff protect and comfort him as he discovers the shadow lands.

Today he’s just beginning a difficult journey, but as one who has spent years in the shadow lands I was able to encourage him and tell him that God is working wonderfully in his shadow lands. In fact, I think I have found my walk with God even sweeter because of the dark paths of the shadow lands. I hope my friend finds God’s sweet care as well as he walks through these dark days.

Amazing God


Yesterday we had our first snow of the winter in Texas. The flakes were huge, wet and sticky. Of course, here in Texas that means car wrecks, schools closed and other problems, but the snow itself was beautiful.

Science has looked at snow one flake at a time and found that each flake is different, each one is unique. To know that the millions of snowflakes I saw yesterday are each unique and different causes me to be in awe of God’s creativity. Even in these small little snowflakes God is showing us his creativity and beauty. He is an amazing God.

I wonder, as I see all these little things that declare design and creativity, how anyone could deny God, but we do. Yesterday I preached the second week of a short series looking at Romans 9-11. It’s a challenging passage. One of the topics in this passage is how we harden our hearts to God’s work.

A story that shows this is the story of John 11. In this chapter, to be brief, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. That should get your attention, but here’s the different responses from those who saw this once in a lifetime miracle. “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.”

Some believed, but there were some who hardened their hearts to the evidence of God’s work in their presence. Today, in Texas, snow gave evidence to an amazing God. I hope you don’t miss his work in our midst. I hope you don’t miss him.

Psalm 46

This post is from @spreadingJOY – lover of the little things that make life big!  Marie knows that every once in a while, you need to be strengthened, encouraged and inspired.  For extra encouragement, a few smiles and lots of {HUGS} follow her on twitter.


Psalm 46

One Sunday morning not long ago, I was doing some daily Bible reading. Ps 46 was in the que. As I was reading it, the song Peace Be Still came to mind and I decided that I should memorize this passage in an effort to learn a verse a day.

Being able to quote this passage from memory has served me more than I would have imagined. Here are my thoughts on this amazing passage of comfort:

Vs. 1-3 – God is our refugee and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Thought the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Daily, everyone of us can stand to hear a reminder that God is our strength. He is with us in trouble. We face trouble on daily basis.  More often than we want to admit, we are weakened and are driven to our knees.  If we would only grab ahold of this verse and cling to its Holy Promise! During the moments in my life when the mountains seem to be falling into the sea, I have been able to pull comfort from these verses. Praise the Lord for being my strength and help in trouble.

Vs. 5 – God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

 This verse reminds me that God Will help and wants to help.  That I do not have to go through my journey alone and scared.  God, the creator of the universe, the Master of the seas, the One that the winds obey his very voice, is in the midst of MY journey.  How amazing is that?

Vs 10a – Be still, and know that I am God…

Worry has a way of grabbing ahold of us and not letting go. We drag our worries around with us, fretting about tomorrow. We wonder what are we going to do, we waste precious time that we could be making a difference for Heaven on worry. That is what satan wants from us. He wants to distract us, so that we forget about this verse. We need to remember to be still and KNOW that God will take care of us, he wants to take care of us and will continue to take care of us. Instead of looking around at the raging storms and taking our eyes off of our Lord, we need to remain focused on him. We need to fix our eyes our heavenly Father and run to Him. We need to crawl right up into his lap and just be still, knowing that He is in control, that He wants to bless us, guide and direct us. Knowing that He is God!

I’m just as guilty as the next person about worry, about discouragement, about distractions.  Having hid these verses in my heart, where I can grab them at a moments notice has proven beneficial so many times. Speaking with my best friend on the phone who is afraid for her prodigal daughter. Consoling my daughter when she feels like the school can’t protect her. Re-assuring my son that God will provide the necessary funding for college. When my own heart is aching, with the desire to give big, with the need to see my son, with various heartaches and breaks – I too, claim these promises from the Lord.

Have you hidden these words in your heart? Can you grab them when you need them? You know the storms are coming, you know the battle will rage? What other passages do you need to hide in your heart?