Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When we expect God to choose from our multiple choice options

How often when we pray do we give God multiple choice or ask Him to give us an answer on “either this or that”? It’s like playing a card game with God asking Him to choose from only the options you’ve presented Him with. 

We forget that God exists outside of time and knows the exact perfect will and plan for our lives.

Romans 8:26 says “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too 
deep for words;”

So often we use prayer as a second choice or even last resort after we’ve come to end of ourselves and what we can do. By the time we take it to prayer, we are desperate, especially desperate for the exact outcome we desire.

By the time we pray about something, 
we are so desperate for it to
have the exact outcome we desire that 
we forget that God’s will
might be different than what we want.

We are flawed, imperfect human beings. That also means that our prayers are flawed. We ask selfishly, or incorrectly without knowing the whole story like God does. That is why He tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, praying spiritual groanings too deep for words.

Have you ever felt so deeply for something you were praying about that all you could do was cry, lay in silence or just repeat the same words over and over? The Holy Spirit takes our heart cry and delivers it to the throne room of heaven.

The amazing thing about God and prayer, is even when we don’t quite ask right, or our motives are wrong, He answers in the best, most perfect way because He knows our hearts and also knows what is best for us in His perfect will. Matthew 7:11 says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” and also Psalm 145:9 “God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace.”

My husband and I had an experience with this. We were praying about my employment. We had several factors contributing and not the least of which was making sure we could afford our 4 teenagers and that we felt called to give to our church’s building project. I was working and the current life circumstances were pushing me towards leaving that job for another. However, through prayer we had no peace. We kept praying and asking God for an answer regarding the two options. We only prayed about those two though. God did not give clear direction on either option.

After a couple of months, we sought some counsel and on the way there asked God to speak through the Pastor we were meeting with to provide us with an answer. Well…answer He did! Just not the way we expected at all!

I am now a stay at home mom and have been able to obey and follow God’s leading on several things that would’ve never happened if I was working all day every day. We also had to learn a fuller dependence on God and He has been faithful to open the heavens and shower us with blessings! It is clear as day that He gets all the glory for what has happened!

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

We have no idea what the future holds and what God’s perfect plan is. We can pray to the best of our ability, but we have to keep our hearts open to the possibility that He might answer off our multiple choice plan. I am so grateful that He answers the way He sees fit and not the way I see fit!

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Message of the Twelve ~ A Book Review

I had the privilege of reading The Message of the Twelve- hearing the voice of the minor prophets by Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. and Gary E. Yates.

This book will educate and intrigue you! It is a rich, in-depth look into the minor prophets of the old testament.

It reads much like a textbook that you might find in a theology class, but it is easy enough reading that anyone interested in digging deeper into the Old Testament will enjoy also.

The authors begin with explaining the historical context in which the prophets ministered and to which Kings. Sometimes when we read scripture we can forget that many of the authors were contemporaries and their recording of events each bare a different perspective.

The time period that this part of scripture spans is 770-430 B.C. During this time, God’s chosen people, Israel, spent most of their time in disobedience and rebellion to the Lord. God calls 12 men to prophesy His word of rebuke and promised judgement if they do not return to the Lord their God. He also communicates clearly the benefit and blessings they will receive for their repentance.

Without a little background, education and the discernment of the Holy Spirit, the minor prophets can be difficult to understand. Fuhr and Yates fill in the education part thoroughly. There is poetry, narrative, rich imagery, hyperbole, and metaphors held within these 12 book of the bible. The authors dive deep into each of the 12 books and discuss influences of the times and culture of people. They highlight the Lord’s heart of love, but furious jealousy for His people.

The authors conclude chapter one stating that the “historical period to which the Book of the Twelve belonged concluded without Israel ever experiencing the full restoration the Lord promised through His prophets.....despite the disappointing history of the prophets, their promises of salvation and restoration for Israel and the nations would not fail. The Lord would overcome even the unbelief of His own people to bring those promises to pass."

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” If we are to understand what God has for us in the rich history of the Old Testament, we need to get in the Word and read it. The bible is God’s breath on a page, His words to us. The Message of the Twelve is a wonderful companion when navigating Hosea through Malachi.