God’s Timing Is Not Always Our Timing

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to answer them and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him.

God has a plan for each one of His children, and He wants what is best for them. He always answers prayers in three ways … No … Yes… and… Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before God gives us the desires of our hearts. It is our human nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength.

The following story is a great illustration about how a little boy tried to help the caterpillar become a butterfly.

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life..in the pit…in the prison, and in Potipher’s palace, God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther! God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what is best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing.

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Poem: The Unanswered Prayer

Years ago, I remember praying, “Lord, make me more like You.”   Although I didn’t realize it at the time, God began sending deep trials to our family and church. I remember thinking, “Why, Lord?”  It was not until  reading this poem  during my Quiet Time  that I began to understand the purpose of those trials. God was just answering my prayer, “Lord, make me more like You.”

The Unanswered Prayer
She asked to be made like her Savior;
He took her right at her word,
And sent her a heart crushing burden
That the depths of her soul was stirred.

She wanted a meek lowly spirit—
The work He gave answered that cry,
Till some who had once been companions,
With a pitying smile passed her by.

She asked to lean hard on the Savior,
He took the human props quite away,
Till no earthly friend could give comfort
And she could do nothing but pray.

She had prayed to be made like the Savior,
And the burdens He gave her to bear
Had been but the great  Sculpter’s teaching;
To help answer her earnest prayer.

—- Publisher Unknown

 

Help Your Children Make Good Choices

Part of your job as a parent is to help your children learn to make wise choices. This is not always easy for you or for them, because, even as adults, we still make poor decisions. Many parents think that you should make all your children’s decisions for them. The problem with that method is these children will go to their peers and to get their opinions…which usually leads to them to making very poor choices.

Because children are impulsive and make choices before they thoroughly think through the consequences, it is important to teach them how to make right choices.

Here are a few tips which could help you as you teach your children to make right choices for themselves.

• Instruct him to carefully think through his choice before he makes a quick decision.
• Sit down one on one with your child and discuss his options before he makes the decision.
• Use God’s Word to discuss the outcomes of both decisions.
• Pray with your child asking the Lord to give him wisdom to make the right choice.
• Encourage your child to always pray before he makes a choice about a decision he is facing.
• Hold your child responsible for his poor choices. If you bail him when he makes a poor choice, he will learn that there are no consequences for the bad choices he makes.

Our Future Is in His Hands

Sometimes when we approach a new year, we begin to have crippling fears. “What if my husband dies this year? What if I get cancer? What if my children rebel? What if I lose my job? What if a terrorist strikes our area? What if the election doesn’t go the right way?” “What if…?” Those questions only generate fears.

Should we really be that concerned about the “what ifs of life” or should we be more concerned about focusing on the facts of God’s Word? God commands us to think on things that are true and real…our “what if thoughts” are not facts, and they are not true! We must never forget that our future is in God’s hands, and that He is a loving, sovereign, and merciful God. When the time comes that we must deal with those unexpected events of our lives, He will be there to comfort us and help us deal with them.  If we truly believe this, we must rid our minds of the “what ifs” and fill them with the facts of God’s Word.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Of course, we should always be ready for unexpected events, but we shouldn’t waste our time and energy worrying about the “what ifs”. These are fears that are not real and may never come to pass.
Instead of dwelling of the “what ifs” this year…

• Acknowledge God’s presence, His power, and His love.
• Remember that God knows and allows the events you might encounter. (Psalm 139:1-4)
• He will never send anything to your life that is not for your good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)
• He will never abandon you no matter what happens. (Matthew 28:20)
• He will guide you throughout all the events of your life and then receive you into glory.

Psalms 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Consequences of a Critical Spirit

The Consequences and Cure for a Critical Spirit written by Terrie Chappell April 11, 2015

I enjoy cooking, finding recipes, and sharing new meals with my family and guests who visit our home. Because of my love for cooking, I get especially excited when I have the opportunity to visit a restaurant that I have read about or seen advertised. And, if I happen to have the chance to eat at one of these restaurants, I always look to see what the critics have said about the food, décor, and overall dining experience.

Several years ago, my husband and I were in the New York area, and we went to a restaurant that came highly recommended by all food critics who had eaten there. I was eagerly anticipating the meal and couldn’t wait to share this fun experience with my husband. But, much to my disappointment, while our meal wasn’t exactly terrible, it was definitely underwhelming. I left a little disappointed in the restaurant and its critics.

A couple of years later, I was with my husband on the West Coast, and we had the opportunity to visit another restaurant that had been featured in magazines and news clips. Again, I was excited, and I sent a text to one of my daughters, letting her know that we would be able to visit. She replied that she was glad for me, but warned that the critics’ reviews weren’t very good and told me not to get my hopes up.

I tried to prepare my expectations for what was to come as we walked into the restaurant. But, we were pleasantly surprised when the food we ordered was amazing! Every bite was delightful and the entire experience—from décor to dessert—was overwhelmingly positive.

I learned a lesson that day: you can’t always trust the critics. And while it is easy to point out the faulty critics in our lives, sometimes it’s much harder to admit when we have our own critical spirit. And, it’s even harder to acknowledge when our criticism is false and hurtful.

Criticism is a problem in the lives of a lot people, but sadly, it is a struggle among many Christians, as well.

A critical spirit is wrong because it carries with it a sense of pride and superiority (Luke 18:14). Also, it is often a cover up for my own heart issues (Jeremiah 17:9).

The following are a few truths I’ve learned (and am doing my best to implement!), as I’ve studied the consequences and the cure for criticism in our lives:

1. Criticism hinders my relationship with others.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.—Proverbs 15:1

2. Criticism hurts others.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.—Matthew 7:3–5

3. Criticism hurts me.
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.—Proverbs 11: 2

4. Criticism hinders my relationship with God.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:—Psalm 66:18

5. Criticism stops God’s blessing in my life.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.—Proverbs 28:13

Those consequences are eye opening! A critical spirit hurts every relationship in my life, including my relationship with God. So, how can I address it and change for God’s glory?

1. Search my heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalm 139:23–24

2. Confess my sin.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.—Proverbs 28:13

3. Change my thinking.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:—Philippians 2:5

While food restaurant critics get a pass when they are wrong, you and I will give an account to God for our critical spirit. So, let’s admit when we’ve been wrong, ask God for forgiveness, and then determine to have the mind of Christ—a mind of humility and deference.

Encouraging Others through Hospitality

Hospitality Is a Tremendous Tool for Encouragement and Edification  written by Terrie Chappell  June 20, 2014

One of my first official attempts at gracious hospitality came early in our family’s ministry, and it was not what I imagined it would be. My husband had just started a couples’ class, and he was so excited the Sunday our first visiting couple attended church. Imagine my shock when, right in the middle of class, he invited them over to our home for lunch!

I was expecting our second child and was not feeling very pleasant or hospitable. We also did not have any food at home! (In fact, I was praying someone would have us over for Sunday lunch that day!) By the time our class was over, I was convinced that he had not been serious in his invitation.

As we walked home from church, I reached for my husband’s hand and said, “I’m so glad you were teasing about having people over today.” It was when he assured me that he was not joking that I looked behind my shoulder and saw the visiting couple following us to our apartment.

I quickly began to formulate a plan. The closest store was a 7-Eleven on the corner of our street, and we only had seven dollars. I ran to the 7-Eleven with the little money we had and bought a package of spaghetti noodles, a can of green beans, and a half gallon of ice cream. So, our big Sunday afternoon meal and my first debut in hospitality consisted of buttered noodles, green beans, and ice cream. To my surprise, the couple joined the church the next Sunday! (I think it was the ice cream!)

Hospitality is a wonderful opportunity to encourage others in the Lord! First Peter 4:9 admonishes us, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” Why don’t you take some time this summer to be a blessing to others in this way, and do so with a joyful spirit? Here a few quick reminders that may help:

• Your meal doesn’t have to be fancy. There are many affordable and fun options (popcorn, ice cream, brownies, etc).
• Your home doesn’t have to be perfect. If you wait until you have every upgrade or decorative item on your wish list, you may never have anyone over!
• Once the food has been served, focus on your guests and enjoy your fellowship with them.
• Ask for help! If you do have a more extensive menu planned, recruit help. It gives others the opportunity to serve and be a part.
• Don’t stress. Be thankful for the privilege of Christian fellowship and savor the time spent with God’s people.

Consider Giving a Gift of Time This Year

Ann Landers wrote about a person she knew who said the greatest gift he ever received in his life was a note his dad gave him on Christmas. It read, “Son, this year I will give you 365 hours. An hour every day after dinner. We’ll talk about whatever you want to talk about. We’ll go wherever you want to go, play whatever you want to play. It will be your hour.” That dad kept his promise and renewed it every year. There is no greater gift we can give than ourselves.

Christmas Devotion (Surrender, Worship, and Joy)

December 9, 2015

Here is a copy of the devotion I gave for a Ladies’ Christmas Tea at Landmark Baptist Church in Red Oak, TX.

This year it seems as though we are living in more troubled times than previous years. With all that we see happening in our world, we might begin to think that times have never been this bad.

Let’s consider the world in which Mary lived. At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Romans had established a two part system of government in which Roman overseers and Jewish leaders exercised control over the people. Most Jewish people hated this kind of rule because of its tyrannical rulers, and also many Jews saw their heritage falling apart.

Mary could have been stoned to death for being engaged to one man and then showing up pregnant with another man’s child. She could also have been charged with blasphemy for telling people that the child was conceived of the Holy Ghost. She definitely had reasons to feel fearful and unhappy…yet we see in Luke 1:47-55, her focus was not on her circumstances, but it was centered on praising the LORD.

Luke 1:46 Mary says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Her heart must have been saturated with God’s word. She must have known many Old Testament verses such as Psalms 34:3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. Her words showed that her whole soul was filled with the LORD’S influence.

Think of the many people around us who are fearful because they don’t know our Savior…but praise the LORD…we don’t have to experience that same fear, because we, like Mary,  have Jesus as our Savior.

Notice Mary’s humility in vs 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:

God still seeks the humble. He imparts his rich blessings to those who feel that they need Him.

Psalms 138:6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

Look at the order in Mary’s attitude: Surrender, worship, and joy. Instead of saying, “How am I going to handle this pregnancy?” She had a God-centered focus.”

1. She surrendered: vs 38 Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. Mary said, “Lord, I am the Your servant..whatever Your will, I will accept. She said, “I’m not worthy of the honor You are bestowing on me… I don’t deserve it… But I’m thankful, and I rejoice in it. This should be our prayer today. Whatever Your will, Lord! I am Your servant. I give myself for Your purposes. Here’s my body…I want to be Your instrument. Use me in whatever way You want in order that Your will and purposes can be fulfilled on this earth.”

It is only after we experience repentance, surrender, and humility can we go into the presence of the LORD to worship Him.

2. She worshiped and praised the Lord : vs 46 My soul doth magnify the Lord,

How did she worship Him…by praising Him in verses 48 and 49 for things He had done for her.

verses 50–55, She not only praised God for what He had done for her, but also what He had done for others. She then praises Him for His saving work in her life and for all of mankind.

He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Mary knew that God keeps His Word and fulfills His promises. She was now experiencing the fulfillment of His promises that He had made two thousand years earlier to Abraham. Notice how Mary praises God’s attributes:

His Mercy: And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

His Power: He hath shewed strength with his arm;

His Sovereignty: He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

Although it looks like evil is triumphing, remember God has the final word. He is sovereign over the wicked and the righteous.

His Compassion and Justice: He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Mary was saying, “Since God provided for past generations, I know that He will be faithful and provide for me and my generation.”

3. After her worship…she experienced joy. It was surrender, praise, and then joy!

vs 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Her surrender led to her worship…then her worship led to her joy. Worship and joy were inseparable.

Ladies, we should be telling others what God has done for us? Sometimes we get so focused on our problems, our pressures, and our burdens that we fail to magnify the Lord and rejoice in our Savior for the great things He has done for us.

Praise the Lord…He is always faithful. We must constantly remind each other of His promises and His faithfulness. We should share with others what He has done for us and remind each other of His attributes:

• He is holy.
• He is merciful.
• He is unchanging.
• He is all-powerful.
• He is sovereign.
• He is compassionate.
• He is just.
• He is always, always, always faithful.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s also celebrate God’s faithfulness. There is coming a day when He will right all of the wrongs we see around us. He will bring down those who are proud against Him and His people.

As we focus our hearts and minds on who the LORD  really is, let’s be like Mary and say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in the God who is my Savior.”

• Pay attention to the time you have to prepare. If you are planning a complicated play, don’t wait until November or December to begin practicing.
• With smaller children, keep your performance simple by narrating the program yourself. Parents and church members love to watch children perform no matter how elementary the program.
• For a fun touch, let your angels wear battery operated halos or carry battery operated candles.
• Use your teens as much as you can. (They are full of ideas, and sometimes younger children will listen to them better)
• Let small children use inexpensive musical instruments when singing carols. (2 years old can play
Toddler Glockenspeils or Rhythm Instruments such as blocks. If they are 3 years or older, they could play children’s Xylophones or use Kids’ Maracas. (If a child doesn’t have an instrument to play, let him hold a battery operated candle)

Ideas for a Christ-Centered Christmas

• Instead of putting up a tree, put a large manger scene in your family room. Place your gifts in front of the manger.

• Wrap presents alike by the givers. When Christmas morning comes, let each child place the presents he has near him. He can systematically give out his gifts. This takes the focus off of receiving and puts the emphasis on giving. (Gifts don’t have to be expensive; children could draw special pictures, color, and frame them)

• Focus the season on Jesus’ sacrificial love by taking your children shopping for a person who is unable to give anything in return.

• Send a Christmas box to a missionary family. Allow plenty of time for your children to earn money their own money to buy gifts for the missionary children.

• Involve your children in sending shoe boxes to Franklin Graham’s project Operation Christmas Child.

• Plan to give a gift to Jesus. (In my son’s church, he places a Chest of Joash at the front of his pulpit. This is a great way to give a Christmas gift to the Lord and to help with remodeling projects around the church.

• If you know someone who will be spending Christmas alone, invite him to your home.

• To show the love of Jesus, volunteer time to a particular ministry. (A homeless shelter, a children’s home, or hospital)

• Send a Christmas card or gift to a soldier.

• Gather a group of friends from your church to go Christmas caroling.

• During the month of December, do random acts of kindness in Jesus’ name. (Pay for person’s meal behind you, rake a neighbor’s lawn, pay for person’s coffee standing in line behind you)

• Take food to a family in need.

• Bake goodies for your neighbors, family, and friends.

• Place indoor and outdoor decorations that reflect Jesus really is The Reason for the Season.

• Hand out Christmas tracts wherever you go…and say Merry Christmas.

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