Friday, September 21, 2007

God's "Balance Sheet"

I'm preparing to speak at a retreat in October, and our theme is "A Future and a Hope." We'll be focusing on one of my favorite topics: God's perfect plan.

I've been in a bit of a valley lately (past entries touch on this), and it's been God's perfect timing that I'm revisiting His promise for a future and a hope. And I want to take a moment to encourage you, if you, too, are in a valley.

I know you're familiar with Romans 8:28, and you may be asking how what you're going through can possibly work together for good.

Not long ago, a speaker at chapel time at work (yes, I work at a credit union where we have chapel time!) spoke about "God's balance sheet." The concept is that when we're in a dark time, we can look back at what God has done. And we usually find that His balance sheet is weighted firmly in His favor.

Try this: Look back over your life (I call this the gift of hindsight), and see how God has protected you or provide for you or blessed you. Look at those times when it could only have been His hand guiding you. Remember how faithful He's been.

That's what I've been doing lately. Although this moment in time seems so hard, I look back at my life's journey, and I see so clearly how He's worked in my life.

He really is faithful. Everything that's happened in my life is part of His master plan--His loving plan. And His balance sheet is fully in the black.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Peace-Not as the World Gives

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

The world offers peace—on its terms.

Watch television or read the latest magazine. The world would tell you that peace comes from driving the best car or wearing the trendiest clothes. Peace comes from having a great sex life or a lucrative career. Peace comes from fame or fortune.

That’s what the world would tell you. But the world would be wrong.

I tried for years to find the world’s peace. I was college-educated, happily married, well-employed. We owned our home, our cars, our stuff. We enjoyed our vacations and partied with friends.

I had it all, or so the world would say. But I had nothing, really. I was miserable.

It wasn’t until I recommitted my life to the Lord that I realized that Jesus was right: He gives a peace that the world can’t begin to compete with. His peace is all-encompassing, and it saturates down to your very soul. It’s a peace that illuminates the peace of the world for what it really is: shallow, empty, sad.

Have you bought into the world’s definition of peace? And do you feel a hole in your heart and soul? Talk to Jesus now about His peace. Have confidence that you don’t have to be troubled; He will give you peace.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hope through Adversity

But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
Psalm 71:14

Many of the psalms are written as cries from the heart.

In the verses that precede this, the psalmist was crying out for help from God. His enemies were at his back, looking to hurt him. But even in the midst of his fear, he could still hope in God. And not only could he hope in God, but he could also praise Him.

It's one thing to have hope in difficult times. Even when things seem at their worst, we can always have hope that God will get us through, that He will provide protection, that He will be the ultimate victor.

It's an entirely different thing to praise God in the most difficult times.

Have you ever thought about praising God even when the enemies are chasing after you? Have you raised your voice in praise when you're hurting and tired and confused?

It's not always easy, but it can make even the hardest times more bearable. When we're praising God, when we're worshipping Him for the awesome God that he is, sometimes the burdens are lighter, the pain is less severs, and the struggles are easier to handle.

Have hope in God at all times, but more importantly, praise Him . . . at all times.