Wednesday, November 30, 2016

GOD’S PROTECTION

GOD’S PROTECTION

Psalm 91:1-2              
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”



            It was just a few days before my oldest daughter’s second birthday. Our young family went to the local mall to shop. IN one of the nicer department stores, I told my wife to go to the women’s dresses while I took the kids to the toy store. Before we could get out of the store, I ran into some old friends and began to carry on a conversation with them while my two oldest children played near the escalator.

            This was an unusual escalator. No safety devices surrounded it. It was simply out in the middle of the floor. My oldest daughter began jumping toward the moving guardrail in an attempt to catch it for a “ride up to the top”. After several unsuccessful attempts, she succeeded. And before I knew it, she was gliding up to the second floor on the outside of the escalator, hanging on for dear life.

            By the time I saw her, she was already a third of the way up. I stopped everything and bolted for the escalator. Taking two steps at a time, I tried to get to her hand in order to pull her over to my side before we reached the top. Just as I was able to reach her arm, gravity took its course. She fell approximately twenty-five feet to a granite tile floor. Screams from the shoppers nearby signaled that something horrible had happened. I finished the ride to the top, and then came down the escalator to get her, thinking the most terrible thoughts imaginable. A mountain-sized trial formed in just seconds.


            Good News! Only two sprained ankles! We knew God defended her from deadly harm. And in the process, we saw that He’s our great protector. In times of intense trial, we can rest safely in the shadow of his protective care no matter where we go.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

GOD’S PRODUCT

GOD’S PRODUCT

James 1:2-4    
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
  

            Everyone comes to supper on time when my wife cooks the food in the crock-pot. It doesn’t matter what she’s fixed for us to eat. It’s always good. There’s something about slow cooking an seasoning that makes roasts, chicken, stews and other dishes delicious. Time along with heat, steam and pressure makes food tender and scrumptious.

            It seems that our world wants crock-pot quality in microwave time. Think about it – all of us want something quick to fix that tastes delicious and that’s nutritious to eat. But we want it now at all costs. If you don’t believe me, check out the frozen food section of your grocery store. Many foods are already prepared and cooked. All you have to do is nuke it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and voila!  It’s done.

            God doesn’t work on the microwave timetable. His product comes on a crock-pot schedule. It takes time to build Christ-likeness and perseverance in the Christian life. These qualities don’t come overnight. They develop through testing, trial and time.

            When life’s pressure cooker is turned on in our lives, it’s hard to see the befits at the end of the road. Yet it’s important to know that all the biblical values that God wants to build in us (hope, joy, peace, faith, love, etc.) add up to one great product – maturity in Christ. The Lord wants us to be whole and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). His purpose in trials is to take us through his process so that his product will come. So if you sense that you’re in God’s crock-pot today, ask yourself, “What’s the Lord cooking inside me?” Whatever it is, it’s going to be rich, tender and good!


Monday, November 28, 2016

GOD’S PROCESS

GOD’S PROCESS

Romans 5:3-4           
   Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.


            One day my youngest daughter found a caterpillar’s cocoon nestled in the branches of one of our azaleas near the bedroom window. We put the thumb-sized shell and the small branch in a jar, sprinkled some grass clippings in the bottom and waited for it to hatch. Days later as I mowed the back yard, we saw signs of new life emerging.

            Only one word adequately depicted the process – struggle. It appeared that this creature was doing everything possible to get through that tiny hole in the shell. A close look at its face gave me the impression that it was in complete agony and pain. What once was a haven of protection was now a prison to escape.

            At times a streak of sympathy entered our minds. After all, who wants to watch anything suffer? Although we were tempted on more than one occasion to get a razor-blade to release it from its agony, no one went to get it. So the creature anguished before a public audience. However to our wonder, a beautiful butterfly emerged and flew away to freedom. And struggle was the process that liberated the creature to new heights.

            Paul reminded the Roman believers who were undergoing sever trials in their day to remember the process God uses to build faith and hope into their character. Suffering humbles us and makes us look to God for help and endurance during the trial. So when struggle strikes deep within us, see how God uses it to build his values in our lives. It’s part of his plan to supply grace to help us in our time of need (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Like Daniel and his friends in the furnace (Daniel 3:22-29), remember God’s process. If you can’t take the heat, stay in the kitchen anyway. It’s for our good.


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