Monday, November 26, 2018

A TIMELY INCONVENIENCE



Have you ever been annoyed by an inconvenience? Recently, I believed I was being unnecessarily inconvenienced. Although exasperated, I was making every effort to maintain a calm demeanor before calling the cable company. "For whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32 ESV).


Unable to access emails on one of my iPhone email accounts, I was thoroughly frustrated. Although not a problem in the past, I was now getting a message instructing me to set up a new account, despite the fact that I already had an account. I wanted to make sure that nothing nefarious was happening.

I called and talked with a pleasant lady who informed me that their app had been updated; therefore, it was necessary to follow the prompts, so that everything could be corrected. With renewed hope that the problem would be quickly resolved, I thanked her and hung up. 

After following each prompt, the program updated, and then a message appeared, "Unable to access account." Really? Really?! Mail was there, because I had just viewed it on my computer, so why not on my iPhone?

Frustrated, I called again and explained my situation to a very sweet girl. She apologized for my trouble and said she would need to place me on hold to retrieve some information. A minute later, she returned to the phone and apologized once again, explaining that she needed to do a little more research and then asked permission to place me on hold again. I assured her that waiting was not a problem. "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love..." (Ephesians 4:2 ESV).

As I waited, the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart, "You did not add your new password to your phone." I wondered why God had not shared that information with me before I called. 

Feeling very foolish, I hurriedly updated the password and voila! The mail started coming into my phone.

The representative came back on the phone, and was in the midst of apologizing once again, when I giggled and said, "No need to apologize. I owe you an apology. The problem was me! I had changed my password but neglected to update my iPhone. Realizing my mistake, I added the new password while waiting for you, and all my emails downloaded." Chuckling again, I added, "I guess that's what happens when you're 72. You don't always remember everything" She laughed and said, "I can't remember things, and I'm 24." 

She then told me that her day had started out badly when she was late for work. Then when she gathered information to sort out my problem, she was unsure how to present the information to me. Since she had been late, she did not want to ask her supervisor. She said, "Your joy, laughter, and kindness have made my day. You live up to your name, Joy." 

Kindness, patience, and an apology are simple gifts to offer to others. God knew her need for compassion, understanding, and a little humor to set her on the right footing for the day. He calls us to bear with one another in love with all humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2 ESV). When the phone call ended, I literally said aloud, "That was so sweet, Lord." Again in my spirit, I heard Him say, "That was a timely inconvenience and I want you to write about it."

The word "timely" means something that is well-timed, appropriate, and expedient. "Inconvenience" means anything that causes trouble, trials, problems, difficulties, stress, irritation, or discomfort. Used together, the words may sound like an oxymoron, but our omniscient God will plan well-timed inconveniences to accomplish His divine purposes and show His sovereignty. 

How many times have we been delayed or inconvenienced in traffic or have had to wait an excessive amount of time in line at a place of business? God just might have delayed us to be a blessing to someone needing a kind word or a helping hand. Maybe that inconvenience was for an attitude adjustment. Or possibly that inconvenient delay saved our life­­.

Investment banker, George Keith, had a meeting 
scheduled on September 11, 2001, for 9 a.m. on the 79th floor of the World Trade Center. However, while driving through Central Park the night before, the transmission of his new BMW got stuck in first gear. The breakdown forced him to cancel his morning meeting. He would realize on the morning of the 11th that what he had perceived as an irritating and inconvenient problem with his new vehicle was in actuality a life-saving blessing in disguise. 

Monica O'Leary thought it more than an inconvenience when she was laid off from her job at a technology company with offices on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. When she said goodbye to her colleagues on September 10, 2001, she had no way of knowing that the very next day all of her business associates would die in the deadliest attack in American history.

Jesus had been required to lay aside His divine privileges and take on the form of a human. Although he knew that His mission would be messy and inconvenient, He also knew that through His obedience, blessings, and eternal life would come to all who will believe and receive Him. 

If we are His obedient, teachable, and available servants, then we will be required to experience timely inconveniences, which provide great opportunities to grow in faith and become mature Christians. Therefore, as God's people whom He dearly loves, we are to take every opportunity to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).

We are encouraged to "do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count other more significant than ourselves. Let each look not only on their interest, but look to the interests of others. Therefore, we are to have the mind of Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:2-8 ESV)

Are we willing to pour ourselves out to make room for those inconvenient moments that God uses to shape, mold, and guide us in becoming a blessing to others? So the next time circumstances delay or frustrate, it just might be one of God's orchestrated, timely inconveniences growing our faith and adjusting our attitude. 

PRAYER: FATHER, forgive me if I have had a bad attitude in those times of inconvenience. Help me to recognize that Your sovereign hand moves in mysterious ways and that You use very timely inconveniences to make a difference in my life and the lives of others. Help me to always be faithful to obey You, to be available when You call, to have the right attitude, and to always be teachable, so that I can learn from You and be a blessing to others. In Jesus name, amen.




Monday, November 19, 2018

GIVE THANKS


I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession 
and thankgiving be made for all people—
for kings and all those in authority, 
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives
 in all godliness and holiness
(I Timothy 2:1-2)


Thanksgiving is a time when we gather together with family and friends and enjoy a bountiful feast of our favorite holiday foods. However, how many people in the United States know or care about the story behind the Thanksgiving holiday and why that day was chosen to acknowledge God as the beneficent giver of blessings?

The American tradition of giving thanks began when 101 Christian men, women, and children made the perilous sixty-six-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean, seeking religious freedom. Only fifty-one survived that harsh first year and bowed their heads in thanks, as they shared their harvest table with Indians who had taught them how to fish and grow corn. Interestingly, it was President Abraham Lincoln, who, in the middle of the Civil War of 1863, wrote a proclamation to establish a day to give thanks to the Lord for America's many blessings:

The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come; others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensitive to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do, therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. In testimony, whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Thanksgiving is not the only time of the year that we are to give thanks. Lincoln understood the importance of giving thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. (Thessalonians 5:18)

Giving thanks acknowledges our trust and faith in our Creator. We might not understand many things, but regardless of our circumstances, we are to praise, trust, and thank God. For He tells us to praise Him no matter what happens and constantly speak of His goodness, grace, and kindness as we exalt His Holy name (Psalm 34:1-3).

The world is a seething cauldron of hatred, anger, threats, and fighting, yet we have God whom we can turn to and be thankful for all that He provides and does for us. If nothing else, we can be most thankful that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the propitiation for our sins. Because of His great sacrifice and our acknowledgement of Him as Lord, we have a place reserved in heaven with Him. That alone gives reason to be exceedingly grateful.

Three years into my journey as a Christian, I learned the importance of thanking God. It was 1974. I was a divorced, single mother of a three-year-old son, caught up in a bad recession. Multiple companies were firing large numbers of employees. Rumors swirled that our company planned to fire between three and four-hundred people, but God's peace was with me as I trusted and praised Him.

The day before Thanksgiving, I was called into the boss's office, where he and another boss reluctantly informed me that the company viewed my job as superfluous; therefore, my position in the art department had been cut. They both exchanged looks as I assured them that God had a plan for my life and that everything would be fine. Of course, I did not have one clue what that plan was, but I trusted God.

God often uses people to reveal His plans. I had a very good friend who urged me to return to college and finish my degree. My confidence level had been at an all-time low after having been in a bad marriage. Yet I chose to believe that I could do all things through Christ who was my strength. (Philippians 4:13)

I pursued the possibility of returning to college and within a very short time, God made a way. My tuition and books were paid through a scholarship fund, and I found a job on campus through the college's work-study program, which allowed me to work around my classes. The Lord took care of every detail, including daycare.

Psalm 37:25 says, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." My young son and I always had food to eat, and I was able to pay my bills each month. God proved then and continues to prove that His provision is limitless. His storehouse never runs empty to those who have surrendered their life to Him.

Despite losing my job, I praised God for His faithfulness, and He met my every need. The puritans had lost half of their community, yet they gave thanks to almighty God, and He provided the means to sustain life. President Lincoln was in the middle of a Civil War, yet he called a nation to give thanks for God's blessings and eventually led the Union to victory, ending slavery in America.

Often what appears to be misfortune, trouble, or adversity, is actually a vehicle for blessing. Many had viewed my firing as a disaster, but it was one of the greatest blessings in my life. It enabled me to complete my degree with honors and eventually teach college.

God wants to do great and marvelous things in our lives. However, for us to receive, we must trust, believe, and give Him thanks before we receive, because His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Thus, He wants us to trust in His goodness and not lean on our own understanding, for He looks for those who will believe and trust Him to meet their needs.

Let us, at a time of such great uncertainty in our world, be faithful to pray daily for this nation, our leaders, our government, and the world. May we always, and not just on Thanksgiving, be grateful for God's many blessings and bounty provided to us and to America. And may we place our hope and trust in Him, who is able to spill abundance into our lives from His great storehouse.

PRAYER:  FATHER, thank you for Your many blessings. You are a faithful Father who knows my every need and provides for them. I pray blessings and protection over my family, friends, and this Nation's leadership. I pray that the people of America, who have enjoyed blessings and freedom, will not take them for granted but will recognize the favor that has come from Your hand. May hearts be turned to You this Thanksgiving Day and ever day with gratitude for all that You provide. In Jesus name, amen. 

Monday, November 12, 2018


WHO IS GOD?


Through Him all things were made.
Without Him nothing was made that has been made.
 John 1:3 NIV

People have asked, "Why should I pray to a God I can't see? To answer that question, we must first answer, "Who is God?" 

Many people have a skewed perception of God. Therefore, it is important to not only answer that question, "Who is God?" but to have it settled within our hearts that He loves us deeply and created us for relationship with Him.  

Before I became a Christian, I believed that God was an unreachable disciplinarian, ready to punish me if I did not measure up to His expectations and standards. Thus, I struggled in vain to be perfect. I did not know that He is the loving, forgiving, nurturing FATHER, who sees us as His precious children, whom He lovingly knit each person in His image, in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13-16)

God is the Sovereign Creator. Sovereign is defined as supreme, absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, boundless, ultimate, total, unconditional; ruling; and royal. "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will, they existed and were created" (Revelation 4:11 NASB)"In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land"(Psalm 95:4-5 NIV; Romans 1:20) "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17 NIV)

God is infinite. He is self-existing without origin. He is pre-eminent and superior. He says, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come" (Isaiah 46:10 NIV).

God is omnipresent (present everywhere). "Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:23-24 ESV). God is accessible to us 24/7.

God is omnipotent (all-powerful). He is Creator of the universe. He the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13)God is abundant in power and His understanding is beyond measure (Psalm 147:5). For with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37 NKJV).

God is omniscient (all-knowing). He knows and cares about the smallest detail of our lives and everything that is around us. He even knows when a sparrow falls or when we lose a single hair (Matthew 10:29-30). Not only does God know everything that will occur until the end of history, He knows our every thought before we speak it (Psalm 139:4)

God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19 ESV) We can trust God to keep His 5,467 promises found in His Word. He is absolutely trustworthy (Hebrews 6:13-18).

God is immutable and never-changing (Malachi 3:6). We can depend on Him and His Word. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17 ESV). He is light. In Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:15). We can trust in His Word.

God is all wisdom. The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable" (Isaiah 40:28). For the LORD gives wisdom and knowledge, and understanding comes from His mouth (Proverbs 2:6)Blessed are those who find wisdom and get understanding (Proverbs 3:13). If we lack wisdom, we are to ask God, who gives generously to all who ask (Proverbs 8:11-12).


God is faithful. "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 120 NKJV). For all the promises of God in Him are "Yes," and in Him "Amen," to the glory of God through us (2 Corinthians 1:20)

God is good. Jesus said, "No one is good, except God alone (Luke 18:19). Therefore, there is no evil in Him, nor can He commit evil. His intentions and motivations are always good and pure. The LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

God is kind. "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6-7).

God is just and holy. The LORD loves justice and hates robbery and wrong (Isaiah 61:8). He administers His laws fairly without favoritism and bias. "Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?" (Exodus 15:11)

God is merciful. The Lord hears our cries for mercy and accepts our prayers (Psalm 6:9). For He says, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Exodus 33:19). His mercies are new every morning. Mercy is God withholding a just punishment when we repent.

God is love. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. He demonstrated
His love for us when He sent His only Son into the world, so that we might have life through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us first and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:8-10)

God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15). His greatest desire is that we love Him and bathe in His love and presence.

We can freely approach God in prayer as children approach their parents and make their requests known. Prayer is conversation that builds an intimate relationship with God, thereby enabling us to hear His voice within our spirit. Prayer teaches us accountability as we learn God's will. Prayer is intercession and our spiritual weapon of warfare that defeats the enemy and moves mountains. For that reason, we are not to be anxious, but in everything by prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving, we are to make our requests known to Him. Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6)

PRAYER: FATHER GOD, thank You for always receiving and embracing me with love. Help me to trust in Your sovereign will for my life and to know that You answer prayers in Your time. Help me to continually seek Your face, wisdom, and discernment. Make me aware of all forms of deception and guide me in making wise decisions. Thank you for giving attention to my every thought, concern, and need. I place my life in Your loving hands. In Jesus name, amen.