Daily in the Word: a ministry of Lancaster Baptist Church
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Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
A 2018 study asked Americans to estimate the median annual income of the rest of the world. On average, respondents guessed that it was around $20,000 per year. In reality the global median income at the time was around $2,100 per year. Even if you adjust for cost of living factors, people in America have an average annual income ten times higher than people in other countries. Does the fact that they benefit from a remarkable financial disparity produce gratitude and contentment? Are people in America regularly thankful for and happy with their financial situation? Often the answer to these questions is "No." And while we cannot control the responses of others, as Christians, are we filled with thanksgiving and praise, or with griping and longing for what we do not have?
There is a great danger that accompanies financial blessing. Even when we have more than most of the world, we find it easy to think that we should still have more than that. Even worse, we find it easy to think that our blessings are the result of our own goodness and skill so that we are getting what we deserve—or maybe less than we deserve. We forget that God is the provider of all the good things we have, and that it is only through His grace that we are able to work for what we do have. “But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
We have been greatly blessed, and we must never fall into the trap of forgetting the God Who gives us the blessings we enjoy.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The trials and difficulties we experience in life are not unique to us. Throughout history, God's people have faced loss, pain, grief, and suffering. Those who were faithful to Him through those trials are an example and encouragement to us to continue to patiently run whatever course God lays out before us. The key to doing that is our focus. Just as drivers of vehicles tend to head in the direction they are looking, we tend to go toward our focus, whether that is on the road or off it. If we are looking at the storms, like Peter did as he was walking on the water, we will, also like Peter did, quickly sink. If instead, however, we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will be able to continue along the path in faithful obedience to His commands.
So many times we look for answers and solutions on our own, and though we would probably not want to admit it, that is because we do not really trust God to do what is best. We know that He is perfect and wise and able to help, but if we are not looking at Jesus we will find our faith beginning to fail. Just because God does not act as we think best does not mean He has stopped caring for us. We can trust Him just as much when we do not see His plan as when we do, so long as He remains our focus. This is not a one time thing but a continuing decision we must make again and again as we patiently run the race.
Faith continues to run with an eye on the Lord no matter what circumstances arise to draw our focus away from Him.
And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name there. And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us.
God has all of the resources of the universe at His command and disposal, and if those for some reason proved to be inadequate, He could create more simply by saying the word. The physical creation we see around us is not the result of long and laborious straining effort, but the result of God saying, “Let there be...” again and again. He does not require our help to complete any of His purposes. Nothing we could ever give to Him increases His supply, for everything already belongs to Him. “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof” (Psalm 50:12).
In light of that truth, the repeated Bible commands for us to give to God and His work are clearly not for His benefit or to make up something He lacks. Instead, our giving is commanded because it serves as a reminder to us that God is faithful and can be trusted in every part of life. When we give the first-fruits of our increase to God, we are declaring that He is in charge of everything and it all belongs to Him. We are declaring our confidence that He provides, not just for what we have experienced so far, but for whatever we face in the future.
When we obey God's commands to give to His work, we are demonstrating that our faith in Him is real.
And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day. And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.
2 Samuel 16:11-13
When David was fleeing from Jerusalem because of the revolt led by his son Absalom, he was accosted by a man named Shimei of the tribe of Benjamin. Shimei did not respect God's choice to replace his kinsman Saul with David, so he viewed the rebellion as David getting what he deserved. Shimei made a great spectacle of his opposition, and in response some of the warriors who were faithful to David asked for permission to permanently silence the critic. David refused, pointing out that God was still working even when things seemed their darkest. David knew that even the curses of an enemy could be used by God to bring good things to his life.
When we are attacked, it is hard not to try to get even and give the critics what we think they deserve. Faith says, instead of taking matters into our own hands, we can trust God to balance the scales and use even attacks against us as part of His plan. Our faith is shown to be real when we refuse to take over God's task of ensuring justice is done. Paul wrote, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). It is not our job to respond to every criticism and attack and try to even the balances. Instead, we are to trust in God and keep moving forward.
God can always be trusted to balance the scales of justice in His own time.
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Many of the most beautiful hymns we sing were born out of times of intense suffering for the author. "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" is no exception. Louisa Stead lost her husband in a tragic accident. The family was on a picnic at the beach when they noticed a swimmer caught in a rip tide. As Louisa and her young daughter watched in horror, their husband and father attempted to rescue the swimmer, only to be pulled under the current and both of them drowned.
Years of poverty followed for Louisa and her daughter. Long before there were government programs or social safety nets in place, Louisa Stead learned to depend on God. It was after someone anonymously left a box of food and clothing on the front porch at a particularly desperate moment that she wrote the words we sing today.
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus—
Just to take Him at His Word,
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord!"
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him;
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er.
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus,
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
We can trust God fully and completely when things are going badly just as confidently as we trust Him when things are going well. He is our rock, our defense, and our salvation not just occasionally but always. He never fails. He never abandons us. When we come to Him and pour out our hearts, expressing not just our needs but our confidence in Him to meet them, we find Him to be the refuge we need. No one has ever failed because God did not keep a promise.
God is a sure and certain refuge for every one of His children who flee to Him for help.
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
When Napoleon saw the battlefield at Waterloo, he quickly realized that his only hope of victory was to keep the British and Prussian armies from uniting against him. His force could stand against either alone, but combined they would have overwhelming strength. So Napoleon entrusted Marshal Grouchy with nearly one third of his army and one task—do not allow Blucher to join forces with Wellington. Historians are still debating the reasons for Grouchy's failure, but the one thing that is certain is that Grouchy did not fulfill his assignment. The armies fighting Napoleon were able to join up on the afternoon of the battle, and Napoleon was defeated.
When we trust people, we always run the risk of being disappointed. There are always people looking to take advantage of the trust of others, but even the most conscientious people with the best intentions may be forced by circumstances not to do what they have committed to do. The only true resting place for our confidence is in God. He is the only one wise enough to always know the right thing, strong enough to always do the right thing, and loving enough to want to do the right thing. There is great blessing gained when we trust God as we should, and we find great protection from the storms of life in His promises.
We can trust God in every situation to do everything He has promised to do.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
I grew up as a fan of the Oakland A's as their manager Alvin Dark was a member of my father's church. I'll never forget how excited we were as kids when we got to go to the ballpark for a game. One of my most vivid sports memories came later on though, and it was far from a pleasant one. In 1988 The A's were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. The A's had a great team that year, and most people expected them to win. One of the Dodgers' key players, Kirk Gibson, had an injured leg. But with the Dodgers trailing 4-3 and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Gibson came to the plate as a pinch hitter. Facing the best relief pitcher in all of baseball, Gibson drove the ball over the right field fence for a game winning two run homer. It would be his only at bat of the series, which the Dodgers went on to win in five games.
In the sports world, they call that "coming through in the clutch." That is exactly what God has been doing for His people for thousands of years. It is not something that He has to be cajoled into, but rather something in which He delights. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). We can always trust in Him to fulfill every promise and bring to pass all that He has said.
No matter how dire our situation may be, God is never going to abandon or forsake us.
Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
A great number of things went wrong in Esther's life. She was born in a foreign country after her people had been taken there as captives when Israel was defeated by Babylon. The beautiful temple she no doubt heard stories of as she was growing up had been destroyed. The walls around the city of Jerusalem had been broken down and lay in ruins. She experienced personal as well as national tragedy when her parents died while she was still young. If it had not been for her relative Mordecai she would have had nothing left in the world.
Yet despite all that she experienced, Esther continued to believe in the God of her people. She continued to obey the commands and instructions of Mordecai. She did not excuse disobedience to God or man by pointing out how much had gone wrong for her. In truth nothing that we experience takes God by surprise, and nothing we experience justifies us turning away from Him. Even when we cannot see the path ahead, we must continue to walk forward in faith. Nowhere in the Bible are we promised that life will be easy. But we are promised that if we are faithful, God will see it and reward us. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5).
Rather than discouraging us so we quit, difficulty should make us more committed to relying on God.
Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
Because the crowd of people who wanted to hear Him was so large, Jesus borrowed Peter's boat. Anchored near the shore the acoustics of the water would carry His voice so that everyone would be able to listen. Afterward, Jesus told Peter to go back out. Fishing in those days was done at night, and the night before had been unproductive. Yet at Jesus' command Peter went. His experience told him fishing during the daytime was pointless. His pride no doubt informed him that the other fishers would find his actions laughable. His body was certainly worn out after a night of fishing and catching nothing. But Peter set his objections aside, did what Jesus said, and caught more fish than his nets could hold.
This is always God's pattern. He blesses us when we do what He says regardless of what others may think or say. Often we are tempted to stay by the shore and keep the nets in the boat. Jesus could have just ordered the fish to jump from the water into the boat, but instead He wanted Peter to learn the lesson of obedience. Nothing will take its place. A. W. Tozer wrote, “Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late—and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.” Prayer for revival is vital. But prayer—nor any other spiritual exercise—should be used as a substitute for simple obedience to what God has said.
Our faith in God is revealed in our obedience to His Word.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Because we live in a world marred by sin, we have to deal with pains and troubles and dangers that are not part of God's original design. But in His grace and mercy, God does not abandon us to our own devices. He offers us a place of safety and refuge from every storm. The problem comes in whether we are willing to accept Him as our refuge or whether we insist on trying to take care of ourselves. It is foolish to ignore the invitation of God to hide under His wings, but it happens. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).
Faith teaches us to trust God regardless of what is happening around us. Faith runs to God when the challenges come rather than becoming angry or bitter at Him for allowing them to come. Faith recognizes Him as the only real source of protection that we have. When the rains came and the fountains of the deep were broken up and the world flooded with water, Noah and his family were safe inside the Ark. For decades Noah had extended an invitation to others to escape the coming destruction, but they refused to listen. We need to be certain that God is our refuge, not just in our words, but in our hearts and minds. We need to accept His offer of protection and run into His fortress of safety.
God makes a refuge available to us in the storms of life, but we must seek Him in faith to be hidden under His wings.
And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
When Jesus taught about the reasons not to worry, he used examples from the natural world: Birds do not have elaborate farming and storage setups; they are taken care of by God. Flowers are temporary, only blooming for a little while. None of the things God made know worry. This is not because nothing ever goes wrong, but because they are cared for by the Lord Who created them.
It is easy for us to allow worry to fill our hearts and minds, robbing us of the peace and joy that trust in God produces. The things that present impossible obstacles to us are no challenge to God. We can't get taller by wishing or worrying, but making a person grow is a small thing for God.
Worry does not make things better. As the old saying goes, “Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. You are always in motion, but you don't get anywhere.” There is certainly nothing wrong with being alert to danger and planning for the future. But the source of our confidence and hope can never be focused on our plans or ability to respond. Instead we are to keep our focus on God. He knows exactly what we need, and what is best for us. More than that, He is strong enough to make sure that what we need and what is best comes to pass. There are many things that are challenging in life, but God is faithful in every situation
Worry is an indication that our faith in God is not what it should be—that we do not really trust Him.
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
The list of the largest companies in the world changes from year to year. Over time, new competitors arise and old enterprises fade into irrelevance. One of the most powerful radio stations in the country, WLS in Chicago, can be heard in five states during the daytime, but at night the 50,000 watt signal can sometimes be heard in forty of the fifty states. The station was started by Sears, Roebuck and Company in 1924 as a way to reach potential customers for the company's large retail and mail order business. The letters stood for World's Largest Store, which Sears was at the time. Today the company no longer exists.
If we think we can get security by amassing material possessions we are sadly mistaken. The things of this world at best are temporary. Even someone who has a great deal of wealth can lose it suddenly. Solomon wrote, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:5). The only true stability that can be found in life is found in God alone. He is eternal, unchanging and faithful. He can be trusted in every situation and circumstance. David said, “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause” (Psalm 25:2-3).
If our treasure is in the next world rather than this one, we never need to fear losing what matters most.
Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
When Nehemiah got a report on how bad things were for the city of Jerusalem he was heartbroken. He immediately began seeking God's help to do something about it. When the king recognized that Nehemiah was in distress he investigated and Nehemiah laid out the problem and asked for permission to go and fix it. He also asked the king to provide resources for the job. “And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me” (Nehemiah 2:8).
When we are doing God's work, we have every reason to seek His help in providing the necessary resources. He is able to supply every need in His way and His time, just as He used a heathen king to provide timber to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. We do not ever need to fear that God will not be able to do what is needed. Hudson Taylor wrote, “Depend on it. God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds.” Rather than worry and fret, we should place our trust in God and go forward.
God is able to use anything and anyone to provide for the needs of His children as they do His work.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Our attitude and habits regarding giving reveal a great deal about the condition of our hearts. And God is far more interested in our hearts than in any amount we give. He certainly does not need our help to fund His work. If we give grudgingly, trying to get by with doing as little as possible, we are not going to receive a rich harvest of blessing. Giving is ultimately a reflection on our attitude toward God. If we view Him as the rightful owner of everything we have, then when we give we are simply returning to Him something He already gave to us. If we view ourselves as the source of our resources, we will not feel the need to give to God.
The topic of giving can be a touchy one in churches. Some people are out to keep all they can. Others are out to lay up treasure in Heaven. This kind of giving comes from the heart long before it comes from the bank account. Paul wrote of the Christians in Macedonia, “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:5). No one has ever lost out financially by giving to God. He sees every gift and every sacrifice. He makes grace abound when we want to be part of His work and enables us to give even more. Someone said, “When it comes to giving until it hurts, most people have a very low threshold of pain.” That humorous statement should not be true of us. We should delight in giving to our God.
Our attitude toward giving is one of the best indicators of our true attitude toward God.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Knowing Jesus is superior to any other knowledge we might be able to acquire. Knowledge of the natural world may equip us to survive in the wilderness, but it is limited. Knowledge of history may protect us from repeating mistakes of the past, but it is limited. Knowledge of Jesus Christ is valuable for every aspect of life. And because Christ is eternal and infinite, we will never reach the limits of what we can learn about Him.
F. B. Meyer wrote, “To know Christ in the storm of battle, to know Him in the valley of shadow, to know Him when the solar light radiates our faces or when they are darkened with disappointment and sorrow, to know the sweetness of His dealing with bruised reeds and smoking flax, to know the tenderness of His sympathy and the strength of His right hand, all this involves many varieties of experience on our part. But each of them like the facets of a diamond will reflect the prismatic beauty of His glory from a new angle.”
Since knowing Christ is so valuable and important, why do most Christians not wholly devote themselves to this pursuit? One reason is the cost. We cannot really know Christ without entering into “the fellowship of His sufferings.” Yet, so often, when we find ourselves in suffering, rather than turning to Christ and discovering His sufficiency, we exhaust all our energy trying to finagle our way out or angrily accusing God for allowing this pain into our lives. Rare is the Christian who, like Paul, embraces any suffering that comes on the path of knowing Christ and making Him known.
Our possessions and accomplishments are of no value compared to the riches of knowing Jesus.
Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
In 2018 the attention of the world was focused on a cave in Thailand where members of a youth soccer team had gotten trapped by rising water. Deep under the ground they had no means to escape. But the people outside were not willing to let them die there. Expert divers along with search and rescue teams from around the world came together and a plan was created to reach the twelve boys and their coach. Because of the length of the underwater passages, extra oxygen tanks were required beyond what an individual diver could carry. A relay system was set up to stage oxygen tanks along the route into and out of the cave. When everything was in place, a veteran diver escorted each trapped person out, helping him navigate under water and access the oxygen that had been prepared. Everything each person needed was already in place, and the rescue operation went smoothly as all thirteen people were successfully brought out alive.
God knows what we will need long before we even encounter the need. He meets our needs, not as a desperate scramble to catch up, but from His infinite resources. We do not pray to inform Him of our situation in hopes that He will have time to figure out a plan. We pray to the One who already knows both the need and the solution and already has the answer. “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). We can trust God to prepare and provide in every situation we face. We will never run out of strength if we fully rely on Him.
God has already prepared everything you need to serve and follow Him today, and He will do the same tomorrow.
Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God. Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.
1 Chronicles 29:1-2
Though David had wanted to build a temple to house the Ark of the Covenant and act as a center of worship for the God of Israel, he was told instead that his son would be given that task. David could have responded to that with bitterness or anger, but instead he began getting things ready that Solomon would need to complete the massive building project. David devoted the final years of his life to gathering resources to build something he himself would never see. There is an old proverb that says, “Society becomes great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.”
David was just as wholehearted in his preparation for Solomon to build the temple as he was in the tasks he took on himself. He did not downplay the importance of preparing for the ones who would come after him. He did not view it as a waste of time. He was not selfish in the use of his resources. David was the king and could command the people to give, but he was not content with that. He also gave from his own personal possessions and wealth to the project. David was not willing to make others sacrifice without being part of that act of worship. “And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost” (1 Chronicles 21:24).
We are called to live in such a way that we will have a positive impact on those who come after us.
And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.
1 Chronicles 17:11-14
When the Israelites insisted on having a king, God directed Samuel to Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. Saul was at first a humble and courageous man, but over time his pride grew to the point where he thought he could choose whether to obey God or not. In response to his rebellion, God announced that Saul would be removed from the kingship and his children would not inherit the throne. Saul spent years trying to kill David to keep that prophecy from being fulfilled. In the end he was slain by the Philistines and David did indeed become king over Israel.
Although David was not perfect, he did devote his whole heart to God, and sought to follow Him. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;” (Psalm 63:1). Because of his obedient heart, God made a promise to David that unlike what had happened with Saul, his descendants would continue to rule over Israel. When the nation was divided, the northern kingdom had numerous short-lived dynasties but the southern kingdom was always ruled by the house of David. Of course the Babylonian captivity ended Israel's time as an independent nation with a king. But the promises of God are sure, and Jesus, the son of David, will rule over all the world.
People may fail or let us down, but God never breaks a single promise that He has made.
Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
It's easy for us to give in to the temptation to take the credit and praise when something goes right. But the ability and resources to do right come from God, not from our own merit. All of the good things we have are a result of His grace and goodness to us. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Success in any part of life is not a cause for pride but a cause for gratitude and praise. The more we understand God's generosity and compassion, the more we have to be thankful for and to share with others.
God is never limited to doing just enough. He is able to do all that we need and more, even more than we can imagine or dare to dream. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). There is never a failure of resources or will on His part. There is only a failure on our part to follow Him faithfully and trust in Him to do what He has promised. God's goodness to us is because of His nature and love for us.
Directed praise toward God for what we have accomplished honors Him and protects us from pride.
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, Even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be meat in mine house, And prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, If I will not open you the windows of heaven, And pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
When we do not give tithes and offerings as God commands, we are robbing Him. When Malachi delivered this message to the people in the days when the Temple was being rebuilt following the Babylonian captivity, they responded with a protest of innocence. “How have we robbed God?” they asked. Malachi declared that failing to give back to God from what He has given to us is theft just as surely as stealing items from a store or breaking into a house to make off with the valuables inside.
As bad as it is to rob God, the failure to give as we should robs us as well. God promises to open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing on those who give to Him out of a heart of obedient faith. But if we are holding back from obedience in this way, we will miss out on seeing God prove Himself mighty and faithful in this way.
Sometimes people are reluctant to give because it does not make financial sense to the natural way of thinking. How can giving more away result in a blessing? It happens because God is faithful. When we do what we should, it gives Him an opportunity to display His power in our lives. He delights in those opportunities. Indeed He is looking for them. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Disobedience prevents us from receiving the good things God has in store for our lives.
And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
In one of His final parables before the crucifixion, Jesus told about a group of ten servants who each received a pound with the instruction to put it to work while their master was gone. Upon his return he summoned them for a report. One man had multiplied his single pound tenfold. Another had five pounds to show for his efforts. Then one came who had hidden what he had received, not even putting it into the bank to earn interest. His effort to excuse his failure to accomplish anything was flatly rejected by his master: “And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow” (Luke 19:22).
God has entrusted each of us with a variety of talents, skills, opportunities, and resources. The main thing He is concerned with is not whether we had good intentions, but whether we actually did something about them. He knows perfectly what could have been done with what He gave, and He expects us to seize the opportunities placed before us. Though our sins were covered forever by the blood Jesus shed on the cross, we will still face a day of evaluation when God examines our work for Him. Paul wrote, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Knowing that the day of accounting is coming should motivate us to make the most of every day given to us.
If we want to be happy with the results when we stand before God then we must be diligent in our work for Him today.
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
At a time when sailing from England to America took six to eight weeks, George Whitefield made the trip thirteen times. He preached up and down, back and forth across both countries and is believed to have delivered some 18,000 sermons during the course of his ministry. He was one of the sparks that lit the revival known as the Great Awakening. As a famous preacher, he could easily have taken a pulpit in a large church and stayed in one place. Instead he continued to travel and speak despite increasingly poor health. He died in 1770 at age fifty-five following a final sermon delivered in Newburyport, Massachusetts. George Whitefield said, “A true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle. No, it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ.”
God does not need us to accomplish His purposes and work. He could do all that He has planned with a single word or thought. But He has chosen to use us, giving us the great privilege of being part of His plan to reach the world. Paul wrote, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). It is imperative that we carry out the work God places in front of us in light of the awesome responsibility that being entrusted with the gospel places on our shoulders. Our love for God should keep us busy for Him as long as we live.
We must seize the opportunities God places before us while there is still time.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
Every one of us is entrusted by God with different talents and spiritual gifts. No two people are alike, and God does not evaluate us by comparing us to others. Instead He looks to measure what we have done with what He gave us. There is one area however where we are all the same. Each of us gets 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds each day. The temptation to be lazy and procrastinate is always there, but none of those hours or minutes or seconds can be reclaimed once they are gone. God calls us to use our time wisely and diligently rather than wasting it. We are stewards of our time just as surely as we are stewards of our financial resources, and we will just as surely be held to account for it.
George Müller said, “Someone may ask, 'But why should I rise early?' To remain too long in bed is a waste of time. Wasting time is unbecoming of a saint who is bought by the precious blood of Jesus. His time and all he has is to be used for the Lord. If we sleep more than is necessary for the refreshment of the body, it is wasting time the Lord has entrusted us to be used for His glory, for our own benefit, and for the benefit of the saints and unbelievers around us. Anyone who spends...hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast will soon discover the beneficial effect early rising has on the outward and inward man.” You may or may not be able to spend an hour with God in prayer and in His Word before breakfast, but are you planning your day and being disciplined in your habits so that you can spend daily time with God? Are you living with the purposes of God in mind and using your time to further His work?
Opportunities that we allow to slip away through indifference or carelessness may never come again.
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
One of the most common and important measures of how a business is doing is found on the profit and loss statement. A business can lose money some years and make money in others and survive, but a business that never turns a profit is headed for extinction. There are segments of the investment industry devoted to applying calculations of profitability to the decision making process. They measure ROE—return on investment—to see whether putting resources in to that business makes financial sense. Our lives may not come with a printed balance sheet, but it should be our desire to make a “profit” on our time and our work for Christ.
Jesus presented the concept of an unprofitable life not just to lost people, but to His disciples. A life lived apart from God is wasted no matter how much wealth the person accumulates. A life lived for God is profitable no matter how little the person may have in the way of financial resources. Andrew Murray wrote, “The world asks, 'What does a man own?' Christ asks, 'How does he use it?'” Jesus called His disciples, and He call us, to put His interests and purposes above our own. We must take up the cross for our lives to truly count. Financial success is meaningless apart from God and no substitue for godly living. “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:5).
God's priorities and values must be at the forefront of our decisions and desires.
And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
God doesn't have any grandchildren. Each new generation must come to faith in Him on their own. While we cannot make others believe, we can give them reasons to believe, showing them through our lives and actions that God is real. When God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, they were leaving it behind, never to return. When He parted the Jordan River so Joshua and the people could cross to attack Jericho, they were in a place they would be staying. So Joshua instructed them to construct an altar made of stones taken out of the bed of the river while the water was held back. These stones would be an ongoing testimony to what God had done, allowing fathers an unmistakable lesson to teach their children about Him.
We are commanded to give thanks and praise to God for what He has done for us. This is only right because He deserves all the glory. But it is also something that makes an impression on those around us. Even the lost world sees God's power when they hear us praise and worship Him. “When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them” (Psalm 126:1-2). Each one of us has a responsibility to make our lives a memorial to God's power, and to remind others so that His greatness will not be forgotten.
Our lives should be living testimonials to God's power and faithfulness that the generations who come after us can see.
Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
The thing that sustained Job's faith through a series of tests and challenges most of us can hardly imagine was his view of God. Although Job at times wavered, he held fast his faith because he recognized that God was just as much in control during the trials as He had been during the blessings. “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). It can be hard to keep our eyes on Him when things are going wrong, but if we see God for Who He truly is, we will find it easier to trust Him as we should.
The world offers a very distorted view of God. Some depict Him as a doddering old man unable or unwilling to be involved in what is happening. Some portray Him as an angry and vengeful deity just looking for an opportunity to punish those who step out of line. Some claim He does not even exist. But God is real, and He is high and holy. His goodness and grace are unchanging, even when we struggle to see them. "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:21–23).
We can face difficulties and darkness with faith when our eyes are firmly fixed on God.
And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
Rahab was an unlikely person to not only believe in the God of Israel but also become part of the ancestral line of Jesus Christ. She was a Canaanite, not part of the Jewish people. She was a harlot, not someone living a holy life. She did not have access to anything written about God and had never seen the Tabernacle or the Ark of the Covenant. Yet when she heard what God had done for the Israelites, she recognized His power and believed that He would fulfill all of His promises. In fact, this heathen woman had more faith in God than many of the Israelites had shown forty years before.
When the Israelites had forty years previously heard the report from the ten spies about the giants in the land, the people refused to go up and fight. They ignored the instructions of Moses and Aaron and the pleas of Joshua and Caleb to trust in the God who had delivered them out of Egypt. They did not believe that God was able to give them victory over the strongholds of the land. As a result the people spent forty years in the wilderness until the entire faithless generation had died. In contrast, Rahab had complete confidence that her people would be defeated because that was what God had said. She risked her life to hide the spies and get them safely out of town simply because she believed God. “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31).
Faith is simply believing that what God said is true and then acting accordingly.
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Jesus knew that the cross was coming even before He came into the world. God's plan for the salvation of mankind did not take Him by surprise. He knew what the cost would be, and He was willing to pay it. He knew there was no other way. Every day of our lives we face the choice between doing what God has said and finding another way that might bring us more pleasure in the short run, or help us avoid a difficult or painful situation. Instead, we must make the choice to put God's will first, not just occasionally, but every day. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Curtis Hutson said, “A crucified man doesn't look back—he can't look back. He has no plans of his own for the future.” This is the life to which we are called as disciples of Jesus Christ. There are no padded crosses. There are no Styrofoam nails. There are no thornless crowns. Being our Saviour cost Jesus dearly, and following Him as we should will cost us. He is our example, not just in His life of obedience and love and conforming to God's will and Word, but in His suffering and death. “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1).
As we put God's will and purpose ahead of our own interests, we become more and more like Jesus.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
I heard the story of a missionary in Africa who had been teaching new converts about the importance of tithing. On Monday morning one of the members of the church knocked on the missionary's door. He had his fishing pole in one hand and a fish in the other. Handing it to the missionary he said, “Here's my tithe.” The missionary asked, “Where are the rest of your fish?” The man replied, “They're still in the river. I just wanted to bring God His fish first.”
We do not give to God because He is in need of our resources. We give to God as an act of obedience to remind us that He is God and we are not. We give not what is leftover, but the first and best that we have because He deserves nothing less. “And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23).
The concept of firstfruits was vital in an agricultural society. We are used to having plenty of food available year round, but the time before the harvest came in was often a time of hunger in ancient societies. The temptation to take the first for themselves was great, but God instead commanded them to give what came first as a sign of His prominence and priority in their lives.
We give to God as a testimony of our faith in His willingness and ability to provide all of our needs.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:3-5
We have been given an unshakable, unmistakable, unfailing certainty of our salvation. It is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because He conquered death, we have no need to fear that anything or anyone can take us away from Him. It is not our goodness or merit that saves us. And it is not our goodness or merit that keeps us saved. That keeping of us securely in His hands is all God's doing just as certainly as our salvation is. Jesus said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand” (John 10:28-29).
In this life we enjoy the benefits of being part of God's family. No longer children of the devil, we instead are His children. But what we see now is only the beginning, the first glimpse of what our salvation will ultimately bring about. One day we will stand in God's presence, and then the full scope of all that we have received by His grace will be apparent to us. Then we will worship Him as never before, realizing all that He has done for us. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
Remembering our eternal destiny in the direct presence of God gives us confidence to face the daily challenges of life.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Normally team picture day for sports teams is a calm, no pressure environment. The athletes gather and are arranged so that everyone has an assigned place to take the photo that will become a keepsake for the whole group. But in 1989 when the New York Mets were preparing for their official spring training photo, there was an outright brawl between Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez. The Mets were just two years removed from winning the World Series in 1986, but as some players received new contracts and raises while others did not, tempers were short. When Strawberry was told he was to be seated next to Hernandez he said, “I only want to sit next to my real friends.” Hearing that remark Hernandez took offense, and before long the two were in a full on brawl until their teammates could separate them.
Unity and harmony do not come naturally to us—even among Christians. Too often we are quick to take offense and slow to forgive. Too often we are unwilling to put in the hard work required to maintain unity, whether at home, on the job or at church. God does not want His people to be divided by trivial and unimportant things. Instead, He calls us to work at getting along with each other, showing patience and grace to those around us. Unity does not come by accident. It only comes when we work at it. “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
The blessing of unity multiplies our efforts and increases our impact if we are willing to work at it.
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:5-7
In 1975 John T. Molloy published his book Dress for Success which quickly became a best seller. Molloy focused attention on the impact that what we wear has on the people we meet. One of the unique features of his book was the use of real world examples and illustrations that detailed the way people responded to various types of clothing. Molloy followed up the success of that first book with several others focused on specific groups of people. Today there are organizations devoted to helping people enter or improve their position in the work force by wearing appropriate clothes for the job they want.
God calls Christians to wear the "clothing" of humility. Pride was at the heart of the devil's rebellion against God, and pride will keep us from experiencing the closeness of fellowship with Him that He intends us to have. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Pride is the worst viper in the human heart! Pride is the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace, and of sweet communion with Christ. Pride is with the greatest difficulty rooted out. Pride is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts! Pride often creeps insensibly into the midst of religion, even, sometimes, under the disguise of humility itself!”
If we are focused on bringing Him honor and glory and lifting Him up, we will not put ourselves forward or insist on getting the credit. God's grace is always available to help those who are striving to put aside pride and put on humility in its place. We can trust God to ensure that our work for Him is rewarded. Even things that are never seen by others here in this world do not escape His notice.
We are not prepared to go out into the world unless we have first put on humility.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
People who want to climb to the top of Mount Everest go through months or years of training before making the attempt. They make financial sacrifices and risk their lives to accomplish something few people ever will do. On average, four people per year perish in the attempt to reach the summit of the highest point on the planet. They endure bitterly cold weather, frequent storms, and the lack of oxygen that comes at such a high elevation. These climbers do all of this so they can look back and say they were one of the few human beings to ever reach the summit.
The seriousness of one's purpose and their commitment to it determines the lengths to which they will go to reach it. Jesus came into the world with a laser focus on His mission. This focus included a commitment to spend time with the Father before the demands of the day: "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). Jesus' focus included setting aside even food when necessary to do the will of the Father: "In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. ... My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:31–32, 34). And this focus included a determination to go to Jerusalem when He knew that He would be crucified there: "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Just as Jesus gave His life to His divine mission, we are to be willing to make any sacrifices that are necessary to do what God has called us to do.
If we want our lives and work for God to have a powerful impact, we must remain committed to His purpose and plan.
And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
1 Samuel 15:22-23
After its introduction in the late 1800s, Coca-Cola quickly became a wildly popular fountain drink. To capitalize on sales opportunities, bottlers began selling Coke that people could take home rather than it just being sold at fountains in drug stores. Not surprisingly, competitors began selling products labeled as Coke but which were really something else. In response, the bottling companies developed the “hobble skirt” bottle shape that was trademarked and unavailable for competitors to use. In addition, Coca-Cola launched a massive national advertising campaign with the slogan “accept no substitutes.” Nothing else was the “real thing,” and they didn't want potential customers to be deceived into buying something else.
When it comes to obedience to God, there are no substitutes. We cannot decide to do something sacrificial for God instead of obeying what He has directly commanded and expect that He will be pleased. This is what King Saul tried to do in 1 Samuel 15. To Saul leaving the best sheep and cattle alive when God had commanded them to be completely destroyed must have seemed like a better choice. But it was in direct disobedience to God. When the prophet Samuel confronted Saul over his disobedience, Saul first blamed the people and the tried to buy God off with a sacrifice. “And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed” (1 Samuel 15:15). It was in reply to that statement that Samuel spoke the words in the verses above, including "to obey is better than sacrifice."
There is no context in which disobeying God can be done to bring Him glory.
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
God did so much for the Israelites. He sent Moses to deliver them from slavery in Egypt. He worked mighty miracles, sending plagues that finally convinced Pharaoh to let the people go. He parted the Red Sea, letting them pass on dry ground and then returning the water to drown the Egyptian army. He fed them with manna, provided water in the wilderness, and cared for their every need. He gave them victory over their enemies and even made sure that their clothes and shoes didn't wear out. Then under Joshua He led them across the Jordan River and gave them victory after victory. He made the walls of Jericho fall down and made the sun stand still so that the enemy army would not be able to escape under the cover of darkness.
In spite of that, the people consistently tried to mix the worship of the Lord with the worship of the gods they had learned about in Egypt and the gods of the Canaanites whose land they had claimed according to God's promise. They did not completely turn away from God, but they were not completely committed to Him either.
As Joshua neared the end of his life, he challenged the people to make a once-for-all choice and refuse to straddle the fence. We must make the same choice. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
God is worthy of our whole-hearted, single-minded worship, service, and love.
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The 1850s were difficult for Elizabeth Prentiss. She had grown up in a pastor's home and at a young age demonstrated a gift for academics and writing. But as she and her pastor husband served the Lord, they lost two of their three children. Her health began to decline, and she was often sick, unable to teach the girls in her boarding school. In 1856, her surviving daughter Minnie became ill to the point of death. When Minnie recovered, the Prentiss family rejoiced together in God's healing and deliverance. Elizabeth wrote a large number of poems and hymns, but the one for which she is best known and remembered was all about the heart which expressed her desire to continue to grow and deepen in her love for the Lord.
More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee;
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!
All of God's commands are important. But the key to obeying any of them is our hearts. When we love God wholly, we'll serve and obey Him gladly. The two "great commandments" Jesus mentioned—to love God and love others—undergird and support everything else in the Christian life. If we love God first and fully, and if we love others, then keeping all of the other commandments will fall into place.
The more that we love God the easier, we will find it to do whatever He tells us to do.
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
The Hatay Archaeological Museum in Antakya, Turkey, contains one of the largest collections of artifacts from the Roman and Byzantine empires in the world. It is filled with statues, mosaics, building materials, household supplies, and rare ancient coins. These treasures are guarded by a highly advanced security system which is capable not only of detecting unauthorized access but of locking down different wings of the museum to prevent thieves from making off with treasures. In addition, the system is able to identify fires and unleash a suppression system that will put out the blaze without damaging the exhibits. The museum is as well-protected as modern security can make it.
As children of God we are protected far more securely than any human system could devise because we are kept in the care of a loving God. God never sleeps or takes a vacation day. He never looks away from us, even for a second. He never faces a foe that strains His ability to defeat. God is with us, and in His presence we can rest in peace rather than living with the torment of fear. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6). God's promise of protection does not mean that nothing will ever go wrong or that we will be shielded from ever experiencing pain or loss. But it does mean that nothing enters our lives which He cannot or will not use for our good and His glory.
We can fully rely on God in every circumstance and situation to do what He knows is best.
I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
2 Timothy 1:3-5
Some people have a legacy of generations of family who have loved and served God. Others are the first in decades or even centuries in their family to have been saved. We cannot do anything about the past. We cannot change the good or the bad done by those who went before us. The only thing that we can do is ensure that we are leaving an example of faith and faithfulness for those who will come after us. That is far more important than any financial or material legacy that we could bequeath to our heirs. That is something that can never be taken away from them. No stock market crash or currency devaluation or real estate collapse can decrease the value of a legacy of faith.
Every day we are either building or tearing down the legacy we are going to pass on. To leave the right kind of legacy behind, it is vital that we live with our focus more on the future than the past. Paul wrote, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Many times Satan successfully gets people so tangled up in the past that they are crippled from being able to move forward. We cannot build properly for the future until we have dealt with the past—confessing and forsaking sin and doing what we can to make things right.
Our faith legacy is the most important thing we can leave to those who come after.
And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
A recent survey asked parents to describe the criteria by which they would judge whether or not their children's lives were a success. Some of the common responses were that the children would be happy, graduate from college, be a good person, or have good values. One response that was noticeable for its absence was faith and godliness. Less than 10 percent of parents listed those as how they would define success for their children. If faith is not important to us, we surely cannot pass it on to our children and grandchildren. If our faith is not passed on to them, there is no way to feel like we have succeeded in this vital responsibility God has given us.
The Lord's description of Abraham as a man whose children would continue to walk in His ways is one of the highest compliments that could ever be paid to anyone. God said this even before Isaac was born. He already knew that Abraham would take the opportunity to extend the influence and impact of his faith by passing it on. Children often adopt their parents' favorite teams, activities, or foods. We need to be sure that they see our faith is real, and that they treasure the things God values rather than the things of the world. “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
Show those who are watching you how important your faith is to you not just in your words but in your actions.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
All of us endure trials and tribulations in life. We don't face the same difficulties, but we do face difficulties, at least in type, that others have faced as well. Paul wrote, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Our response to the trials in our lives is not determined by the trial itself. Rather, what determines our response is the point of view we choose to adopt. We do not have to make the choice to be downhearted or defeated because of the obstacles we face. We always have the choice to recognize that God is working through difficulties and thus remain joyful even in the face of severe tests.
When James wrote about trials, he was not speaking hypothetically. He had endured great persecution. And the group to whom he was writing had been scattered from Jerusalem by persecution. The Roman Empire was about to unleash a wave of attacks on Christians that was unprecedented in its scope and ferocity. So James was speaking with experience, and his Holy Spirit-inspired words did not apply to minor difficulties only, but to the extreme. Even in the most trying times, we can be joyful, for our joy is not found in this world. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). God is always faithful and present and we can always rejoice in Him.
Our ability to rejoice in trials is grounded in our faith that God knows what He is doing.
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1 Peter 1:5-7
The melting point of gold is almost 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, so anyone wanting to work with this precious metal needs to have a crucible that is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. Before the invention of modern technology and materials, smelting gold for use was a complex process. Ancient Egyptians discovered that charcoal allowed for a hotter fire, and by using blowpipes they were able to heat gold well enough to produce elaborate decorative items, some of which were discovered in the tombs of pharaohs like King Tut. They went to great lengths to make gold workable because of the value that was placed on it.
The Bible uses the metaphor of refining precious metals to describe God's process of working in our lives to remove the impurities that keep us from being useful in His kingdom. God does not value gold as the world does. In fact, He uses it in Heaven like we use asphalt or concrete as a paving material. “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). He does however place great value on our faith and He calls us to patiently go through the fires that prepare us for His service. Only those who endure through the process will be fully ready for His service. “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
The trials God brings into our lives are meant to prepare us to serve Him more effectively.
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
2 Timothy 2:14-16
Ever since gold and silver coins began being used, unscrupulous people would carefully “clip” them, shaving small amounts off the edges to make a profit. The precious metals they collected would eventually add up to quite a sum of money. Many countries struggled with this issue, and often people would be reluctant to accept coins knowing that so many of them had been altered. At the time he became Master of the Royal Mint in London, Isaac Newton estimated that one out of every five coins being circulated in England had been clipped. Despite the harsh penalties that were attached to the crime, people continued because it was difficult to prove it had been done. Newton brought that to a halt by introducing reeding—the ridges around the edge of a coin. That made it immediately apparent if the coin had been altered.
God sees through every artifice and attempt to conceal sin and disobedience. He calls us to live out His Word in sincerity and truth so that we will not be ashamed when we stand before Him. Genuine faith does not allow us to cut corners or clip the edges of God's commands. Instead, we must practice obedience, no matter what temptations the devil places before us and no matter what obstacles the world throws in our path. There is a great need for genuine Christians in a time when people are turning away from the truth—Christians not just in word but in deed. As James wrote, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
God assesses our lives not on the basis of our words but our actions.
And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign. And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him.
2 Chronicles 16:12-14
After a long life of faithfully serving and following God, King Asa got sick. He had passed the test of rejecting the idolatry that many of his predecessors had adopted. He had passed the test of purity, rejecting the rampant immorality that dominated the kingdom prior to his taking the throne. Yet when the test of sickness came, Asa failed. Rather than turning to the God Who had given him a long reign, victory in battle, and great wealth, he only looked for help from the doctors. God would have been more than able to heal him, but Asa did not ask.There is nothing wrong with going to a doctor when you are sick. The test that Asa failed, however, was that he trusted in doctors and did not trust in the Lord.
God does not owe us—nor does He promise us—a comfortable life where nothing ever goes wrong. Instead, He promises to go with us through the trials: “...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Hudson Taylor said, “It doesn’t matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies. Be sure that it doesn’t come between you and the Savior.” We will never face a challenge God is not able to meet, and if we turn to Him rather than turning away from Him, the times of our testing can be even sweeter than the times of our calm.
No trial or testing should be allowed to cause us to doubt God's love and goodness.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Our prayers don't give God new information. He does not need to discover what we need—He already knows. God knows not only what we need, but also how and when He will provide it, or what He will do instead if our requests would not be for our best. God could easily answer every prayer immediately, He often does not. There are times when we pray for days or weeks or even years before the answer comes. In these cases, we can always trust that God has our best interests at heart. When Jesus laid out the pattern for prayer, He talked about it not as a one time thing but rather a continuing action. When we keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking, we can expect God to answer just as He promised.
God wants us to have a close and personal relationship with Him. Continued and persistent prayer helps build that relationship, and it reminds us that we are completely and totally dependent on Him. God has taken us into His family, and given us all of the rights and privileges that go along with our adoption. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17). Having been granted that great gift of grace, we must continually rely on the Giver instead of on ourselves. God is waiting to give good things to those who come to Him in faithful and diligent prayer.
A delay in the answer to a prayer does not mean that we should give up and stop praying.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
The Lord performed so many miracles while He was here on earth that only a small fraction of them are recorded in the Bible. John wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:25). While some of the people who were the beneficiaries of Jesus' miracles were truly thankful, that was not always the case. Sometimes people took the grace and mercy extended to them for granted and went on their way without even saying “Thank you.” When Jesus healed ten lepers, the nine who were Jewish never looked back. It was only the often-despised Samaritan who gave thanks.
The Lord did not save us because we deserved it, but because He loved us. If we spent every moment of the rest of our lives thanking Him for that we would still not even begin to scratch the surface of what we owe Him. God's people should be thankful people. Every day we have new evidence of His love and grace. Every day we have new reasons to praise Him. And our thanks should be offered sincerely from the bottom of our hearts.
In Colossians 1, Paul told the Christians at Colossae that as he prayed for them, he gave thanks for their salvation. His description of all he gave thanks for in their salvation is a good template for our prayers of thanks to God for our salvation: "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:12–14).
Give thanks to God today and every day for His great gift of grace to you.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
From ancient times it has been customary for those visiting a ruler to bring gifts. Even the queen of Sheba, on her visit to Jerusalem, brought gifts to King Solomon. And despite the fact that Solomon was the richest man in the world, he still received those gifts. The practice continues all around the world today. American history has some unusual occurrences of gifts to the President: In 1835 President Andrew Jackson received a 1,400 pound wheel of cheese from a New York dairy farmer. And the “Resolute Desk,” which most Presidents still use in the Oval Office, was made from salvaged timber from the HMS Resolute. It was donated by Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.
When we come into God's presence there is nothing we could bring that He needs. He already owns everything that exists. But that does not mean that we should come empty handed. We should come with hearts full of praise and thanksgiving: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Our mouths should be filled with praise and thanksgiving, not just once a year but every single day. We serve a good God Who is worthy of our praise. "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High" (Psalm 92:1)
The sacrifice of praise is a gift every Christian can bring God as they enter His presence.
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
In 1926, continuing a tradition that dated back to George Washington, President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving. He wrote, “We are not unmindful of the gratitude we owe to God for His watchful care which has pointed out to us the ways of peace and happiness; we should not fail in our acknowledgment of His divine favor which has bestowed upon us so many blessings. Neither should we be forgetful of those among us who, through stress of circumstances, are less fortunately placed, but by deeds of charity make our acknowledgment more acceptable in His sight.”
If we do not intentionally and deliberately work at being thankful for God's blessings, we will forget all that He has done. Even worse we will be tempted to take the credit for ourselves for what He has done. We so easily become proud and self-sufficient. Giving thanks reminds us where our blessings come from.
Giving thanks also reminds us of the specifics of God's goodness and generosity in our lives. Psalm 103 opens with David's heart to bless the Lord with "all that is within me." And as the psalm continues, he enumerates God's great blessings. No wonder his heart was so full of gratitude. Thinkfulness brings thankfulness. As we think on all that God has given to us, our hearts will overflow with gratitude. As the old song says,
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
As we meditate on the specific gifts of God's grace, it draws our hearts to specific thanksgiving and praise.
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
There is no such thing as a permanent victory over sin and temptation until we reach Heaven.And one of the constant battles each of us faces is the fight against pride. Pride was at the center of Satan's original rebellion against God, and it remains one his most effective tools against God's children.
Jonathan Edwards wrote, “The more excellent something is, the more likely it will be imitated. There are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about making counterfeit pebbles? However, the more excellent things are, the more difficult it is to imitate them in their essential character and intrinsic virtues. Yet the more variable the imitations be, the more skill and subtlety will be used in making them an exact imitation. So it is with Christian virtues and graces. The devil and men’s own deceitful hearts tend to imitate those things that have the highest value. So no graces are more counterfeited than love and humility. For these are the virtues where the beauty of a true Christian is seen most clearly.”
When we allow ourselves to become proud, we forfeit the help that God offers—the only power that is able to win the victory over the enemy. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). Instead of being lifted up, we must humbly kneel before God and acknowledge our complete dependence on Him.
God gives the grace for victory to those who humble themselves to depend on Him.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Paul wrote to thank the church at Philippi for their generous financial support while he was a prisoner in Rome. A number of years had passed since Paul had first preached the gospel in this city, but the church he had worked to plant here had not forgotten him. Their help at this time was especially important while Paul was unable to work his own tent making job that he used to support the work of his ministry. No doubt, there were many ministry needs that continued while Paul was imprisoned. Additionally, in the Roman prison system, Paul would have had to pay for any personal needs out of pocket.
But as Paul wrote to thank this church for their sacrificial gifts, he told them that he had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances. In fact, it was not his circumstances at all that dictated his contentment. When Paul wrote that he could be content whether he was impoverished or had plenty, whether he was hungry or satisfied, he was not speaking figuratively. He had often suffered hunger, privation, and need for the sake of the gospel. Paul's contentment came from an understanding that God could be trusted in every situation.
God is not just good when we have plenty of food in the house and plenty of money in the bank. He is just as good when times are hard. Faith teaches us to be content in Jesus because He never changes.
Taking our focus off of our circumstances and putting it on God leads to true contentment.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
For many Christians, Romans 8:28 is a familiar verse. It is frequently referenced, preached from, and shared with those who are going through difficulties. It has been a comfort to so many people dealing with something that from an earthly perspective was hard to understand. Often we talk about this verse with a focus on the phrase "all things." Indeed, it is comforting to know that this promise is all inclusive to every area of our lives.
But equally as encouraging is the phrase at the end of the verse which assures us that God will make all things work for good "according to his purpose." To know that God has a purpose and will bring it to pass in our lives is comforting. And we can always rest assured that God's purposes are good and wise.
Even when we cannot see the plan, God has one. Even when we cannot understand the purpose, God has one. Even when we weep in pain and deal with grief, God is there. The end result of every event in our lives is to accomplish God's purpose, and the heart of that purpose is for us to become more like Jesus. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). In every struggle in our lives we can be confident that God is at work. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will see how God's purposes work together to accomplish His goal.
We do not ever need to fear that anything will derail God's ultimate purpose for our lives.