Tag Archive: promise


Waiting on God

Jer 33.14-15

Have you ever noticed that waiting on someone else is so much more annoying than when someone is waiting on you?

When someone is waiting on me, I have control. I know I’ll deliver on what I said I would do. But when I’m waiting on someone else, I can’t be sure of the outcome. Best case scenario, I wait and the other person comes through, even if it’s a little late. Worst case scenario, the other person doesn’t follow though and I’m left waiting with something left undone.

When I’m waiting on God, it feels like I have no control.

I can’t control when He’ll fix a situation or a person.

I can’t control when God’s right time will be.

I can’t control when or where I’ll hear from Him or how He’ll call me.

And it’s annoying because from what I can see if I’m asking, then it must be the right time!

But when I’m not in the midst of turmoil and can take a step back, I see differently. My time is based on my emotions—emotions that feel out of control to me, but are just a minor storm to God.

I see only what’s around me, but God sees the big picture. He sees the storms raging and His people crying out. God sees it all, including our hearts, our needs, and our deepest desires.

My time of frustration and despair may not be the right time in God’s plan, but that doesn’t mean He’s not there.

God promised to never leave us and God always keeps His promises.

We can’t control God’s timing, but we can control what we do while we wait.

While we wait on God…we keep praying.

We keep walking close to Him.

And we keep trusting Him.

Because no matter how much of the picture we can see, God sees it all.

And His time is always the right time.

 

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 
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The Other Side

License: Public Domain

The Land Between is a time of uncertainty—what used to be normal has changed, and what the future will be is unknown. But eventually, whether it’s sooner or later, we reach the other side of the Land Between. Life has settled down and feels stable again, and we can look back at what we’ve gone through.

Now, consider this…

When you look back from the other side of the Land Between, what do you see?

Is your relationship with God stronger than it was before? Maybe you look back and see where He was walking along side you the entire time. Despite the grief and emotional pain, you know without a doubt God never left you.

Or, maybe you realize that somewhere along the way, you stopped turning to God. You remember only the negative experience and are still grumbling about it.

The Land Between is a perfect time for transformational growth to occur, and one of two things will happen—we move toward God or away from Him.

How we respond to difficult circumstances gives us a visual of which way we’re moving.

When life gets hard (illness, death, unemployment, financial setbacks, separation and divorce, unexplained depression, or something else), we cry out to God, knowing won’t leave us. We look for Him at every twist and turn, and let Him walk us through this time.

This reaction enables us to grow closer to God, experiencing His presence and provision in ways we’ve never seen before.

But sometimes, we put up a wall, withdrawing from family and friends…and God. Although He never leaves us, we choose to turn away from Him, refusing to let Him in. Worse yet, we might blame God for the trial we’re going through.

Reacting this way puts everything on our own shoulders and isolates us from the very One who can support and help us.

What do you see when you look back from the edge of the other side? Now, look to the future.

From your experience in the Land Between, what to you see ahead of you?

If you’ve grown closer to God, you’ve seen Him like you’ve never seen Him before. Your faith and trust in Him are stronger than ever, and you know when the next storm in life starts to brew He’ll be right there beside you, guiding you through it.

If you’ve pulled away from God, you might look to the future and dread knowing another trial will come your way. You might feel like the only one you can depend on is yourself…and that didn’t go so well the last time.

If you find yourself on the path leading away from God, know that it’s never too late to turn back to Him. There is growth in realizing where you strayed, and knowing you don’t want it to happen again when the next struggle comes.

As you look back on your journey in the Land Between, what do you see? And how does it help you as you move into the future?

 

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 

Looking Back at God’s Provision

Photo credit: Greenfleet Forester, May 2013

Have you ever noticed it’s sometimes difficult to see God’s provision until after the fact?

After we walk through the valley or make it to the other side of the land between, that’s when it’s easier to look back and see where God was at work. But while we’re in the exhausting day-to-day of the land between, it can be harder to see the ways God provides for us.

We know what we’re looking for. We already have in mind what we need or want God to do, and when we don’t see it, it’s easy to assume He’s not doing anything.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. In that time, God supplied everything they needed. The obvious was food and water. They were looking for it, and they saw God provide it.

But I wonder if during those years anyone said, “Hey, have you noticed how long these sandals have lasted? And our clothes—seems like they should be worn out by now.”

God provided what they needed, whether they noticed it at the time or not. But as Moses prepared to die, he looked back over those years…

Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:

Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 29:2-6

The Israelites weren’t getting it—all that time God took care of them. He wanted them to trust Him for everything and know that He would continue to provide.

Are we any different?

We get bogged down and miss seeing God’s ways, but when we look back, our vision of God’s provision is clearer. We’re able to see that God knew just what we needed, even when we didn’t.

The perfectly-timed phone call from a friend that turned a bad day around.

The utility bill we dreaded receiving, but turned out to be less than expected.

A good night’s sleep that enabled us to deal with the events of the next day.

The direction we needed and found in His Word.

It’s so important to look back at how God has provided because it allows us to see the full picture; where before we could only see one piece at a time.

Looking back strengthens our trust. We see how God provided then…and our trust that He will continue to take care of all of our needs grows stronger.

And the more we experience and know we can depend on Him, the more confident we are that God will provide…even when it’s not in the ways we’re looking for.

When you look back, is there a time in your life when you didn’t recognize God’s provision, but you see it now?

 

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 

Just Enough Light for This Moment

I have a few strategically placed nightlights in my house. Not because I have small children, but so I don’t have to turn on the bright overhead lights if I get up in the middle of the night. While I usually prefer bright light to dim, it’s too much in the dark night. My eyes can’t adjust from darkness to bright light quickly enough. I blink and squint and shade my eyes. It’s too much light all at once, but the soft glow from the nightlight is just enough light for that moment.

God has always given light to His people. At creation…

…God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:3-4 NIV

He led the Israelites…

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:21-22 NIV

And God gave us light in the darkness through His Son, Jesus…

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. John 12:46 NLT

The darkness can never extinguish the light.

When I feel surrounded by darkness, I trust the light is there. I may only be able to see a pinprick of brightness, but I know it’s there.

While I would prefer a brighter beam to guide me, God knows how much light I need for that moment. Light that’s too bright may make me squint and shade my eyes. He knows seeing too much, too soon, may distract me. But His tiny spot of light at just the right time is what I need to focus on Him.

No matter how soft or brilliant the light may seem at the time, the Light of the world can never be extinguished by the darkness.

And it’s always just enough light for that moment.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 NLT

In Christ,
Laura

Putting God to the Test

06-elijah-and-the-prophets-of-baal

“Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it.  Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God. Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” 1 Kings 18:23-24

I have always loved the story of Elijah and the Baal priests at Mt Carmel. It reminds me that God is bigger than any man-made story or false religion. I am also very comforted knowing that when it comes down to a fight that the true God is always going to show himself to be more powerful. This is all good stuff but…

As I was reading chapter 15 of “The Story” I stopped and paused after the Elijah story. The same story was present but I read it completely different. Was Elijah putting God to the test? God never told him to put on a battle of the gods showdown. If God wanted it to go down it would have been a pay-per-view event of the decade. But there is no indication in Scripture that this was God’s idea at all. So, if this wasn’t God’s idea then was Elijah putting God to the test? Was he tempting God to perform a magic trick before the eyes of the people?

I am a little conflicted because Jesus was tempted by the Devil when he said throw yourself down, God will save you. Jesus said, “Do not put the Lord to the test.” But God says through the prophet Malachi,

“…test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

So what are we to do…test God or not test God?

There is a difference between the way that we test. I think it goes back to the motives in which we are asking. Do we test God so that we can prove to be right in front of someone else? Do we seek to test God so that we can get something we want from him? There are a lot of impure motives that we can attempt to test God but I think God says with pure motives he wants us to test him, to see that he will fulfill his promise. To be clear, praying for God to act is not putting him to the test.

Elijah was facing an epic battle, the likes of which no one had ever witnessed. He was the only prophet left of God in all the land. People were being enticed away from the true God to one of evil. Elijah trusted God and simply asked him to fulfill a promise. He knew that God would honor his promise with right motives and a right heart.

Would God still be God if he wouldn’t have listened to Elijah? Yes. God chooses to break into our world so that his plan and purpose is fulfilled. It gives us a glimpse of a now and not yet reality. We know that God is all-powerful we see glimpses of it now but will see it fully when Jesus returns.

God wants you to know that he is faithful and true to his promises. Put God to the test and see that he will be faithful.

What have you been holding back from God because you were afraid to put him to the test? How do we judge whether our motives are right? What would be a good thing to test God in? What would be a bad example to test God with? What has God promised to do that you have seen him fulfill?

Chp 2 Faith, Trust and Hope

It seems God’s timing rarely matches the time frame we would prefer. We’re an instant gratification society. From fast food to drive-thru everything, we don’t like to wait. Does anyone besides me get impatient if the internet is a few seconds too slow?

So, reading about Abraham and Sarah reminds me that the patience to wait on God’s timing comes through faith, trust, and hope. But better still is God’s grace for them as they struggled with impatience and took matters into their own hands.

Abraham (known as Abram at that time) was 75 years old when God told him to leave his country, his people, and father’s household, and go to a new land, where God would bless him and make him into a great nation.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 NIV

Faith, as defined in The Story, is complete trust. True faith is much deeper than mere intellectual agreement with certain facts—it affects the desires of one’s heart. (The Story pg. 14)

In Abraham’s lower story, he didn’t know where God was taking him. He didn’t know how his obedience fit into God’s upper story, but he didn’t need to know. Abraham trusted God and wanted to be faithful, so he packed up and went.

Trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. (NLT Study Bible, Tyndale)

Trusting God is knowing that what He says will happen. We might not know when or how, but we can be sure that God will always keep His promises.

Abraham trusted God, but the waiting and longing for a child had to be awful. What did Abraham think every time he saw the pain in Sarah’s eyes? How did Sarah respond when surrounded by the children of family and friends, knowing that a family was not in her future?

Years later, God told Abraham again that he would be the father of many. But Abraham still didn’t know when or how that could happen, only that he had God’s word.

At some point during the wait, I would have wavered between faith and hopelessness. I would have wanted to ask God, “How long God? I can’t do this anymore—it’s too hard. Why did you tell me I’d have descendants when it seems impossible? Why did you give me hope for a son when it’s not to be?”

Abraham said it more eloquently when the Lord came to him in a vision…

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:2-5 NIV

I can hear the compassion in God’s voice as He answers Abraham. God knew his pain and lovingly confirms that Abraham will have a son and be the father of many. And then God goes a step further and makes a covenant with Abraham—a promise that only God can keep.

When it all seemed impossible, Abraham had faith in God. He trusted God. And His hope was in God.

Abraham hoped for a son. He desperately wanted a son. Just like many of us desperately hope for or want something—a child, a spouse, maybe a change in circumstances.

But I like this definition of hope…

Hope is the confident trust with the expectation of fulfillment. (NLT Study Bible, Tyndale)

Hope in God is knowing He will be there, no matter what. Hope is knowing He will act in our best interest, according to His grand upper story. Hope is knowing that when life hurts, we’re not alone—God will never leave us.

God kept His promise to Abraham. 25 years after God first told Abraham he would be a father, Sarah had a baby boy named Issac. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90.

Abraham and Sarah couldn’t see past their lower story, just like you and I can’t see past ours. There are times when the story eventually turns out the way we want it to, as it did for Abraham and Sarah. But sometimes God has something different in mind. Through faith, trust, and hope, we have the assurance that our lower story is part of God’s upper story…fulfilled His Way and in His time.

In Christ,

Laura

Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith

Click on the link ^ to explore Laura’s blog page.

12 Days of Christmas

With the Christmas season set to start-up in two days as we approach Epiphany, I thought it would be a fun idea to talk about the “Twelve days of Christmas.”

I came across an email the other day that talked about the origins of this well-known Christmas ditty. I do not know if all these facts are true (and if they are not I hope that someone will please correct it) but I thought it was interesting enough to pass along to think about. So here it is…

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

  • The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
  • Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  • Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.-
  • The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  • The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  • The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
  • Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  • The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  • Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  • The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
  • The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  • The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

May your Christmas season be filled with Joy as we know and experience our God who has kept his promises and remained faithful as he sent his son into the world to save us, even to a  people who have been faithless.  

Please leave your comments and questions below or on our Facebook page. Thanks!

Holiday Sale or Christmas Promise?

My Pastoral supervisor in Freeport, IL always had a running joke. Every couple of months he would act very excited carrying a paper with him and wave it in the air while announcing, “JcPenny is having the biggest sale of the year!” Before you think he was one of those crazy JcPenny shoppers you have to know that he was really just being sarcastic. In the town of Freeport, JcPenny was always having sales and they always called it the biggest sale of the year. To their credit maybe every sale was their biggest of that particular year, but many people grew a little skeptical of “big sales” especially the ones that promised savings that had never been seen before.     

I was always taught that if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is. Stores are not in business to lose money. If they lose on one item you can bet they will make even more on another. Because of some of the sales techniques that we have been exposed to we have become more than a little cynical.

What do we do with the circumstances concerning the birth of Jesus? A virgin that is pregnant, shady shepherds proclaiming his birth, God being born into flesh and blood, and many other parts. It all sounds too good to be true. But this is precisely the difference between a sales pitch and a promise from God.

Have we grown so accustomed to the Christmas season that when we see the Christ-child in the manger every year we ask, is it too good to be true?

Leave your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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