VIDEO This Experience Must Come – Trusting God in the Darkness

This Experience Must Come

Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha…saw him no more. —2 Kings 2:11-12

It is not wrong for you to depend on your “Elijah” for as long as God gives him to you. But remember that the time will come when he must leave and will no longer be your guide and your leader, because God does not intend for him to stay. Even the thought of that causes you to say, “I cannot continue without my ‘Elijah.’ ” Yet God says you must continue.

Alone at Your “Jordan” (2 Kings 2:14). The Jordan River represents the type of separation where you have no fellowship with anyone else, and where no one else can take your responsibility from you. You now have to put to the test what you learned when you were with your “Elijah.” You have been to the Jordan over and over again with Elijah, but now you are facing it alone. There is no use in saying that you cannot go— the experience is here, and you must go. If you truly want to know whether or not God is the God your faith believes Him to be, then go through your “Jordan” alone.

Alone at Your “Jericho” (2 Kings 2:15). Jericho represents the place where you have seen your “Elijah” do great things. Yet when you come alone to your “Jericho,” you have a strong reluctance to take the initiative and trust in God, wanting, instead, for someone else to take it for you. But if you remain true to what you learned while with your “Elijah,” you will receive a sign, as Elisha did, that God is with you.

Alone at Your “Bethel” (2 Kings 2:23). At your “Bethel” you will find yourself at your wits’ end but at the beginning of God’s wisdom. When you come to your wits’ end and feel inclined to panic— don’t! Stand true to God and He will bring out His truth in a way that will make your life an expression of worship. Put into practice what you learned while with your “Elijah”— use his mantle and pray (see 2 Kings 2:13-14). Make a determination to trust in God, and do not even look for Elijah anymore.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We are only what we are in the dark; all the rest is reputation. What God looks at is what we are in the dark—the imaginations of our minds; the thoughts of our heart; the habits of our bodies; these are the things that mark us in God’s sight.  The Love of God—The Ministry of the Unnoticed, 669 L


Dr Tony Evans Trusting God in the Darkness

Things That Last

You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18

Herbert Taylor, an unassuming businessman in Chicago, was behind many of the great student ministry movements in the twentieth century. Having made a fortune as a manufacturer, Taylor shared his talents and treasures to further the Lord’s work. He helped establish scores of evangelistic organizations. And he was behind the purchase of the Cedar Campus for InterVarsity on Lake Huron.

In building the Cedar Lodge in 1954, everything came down to a final payment of $10,000. About that time, Taylor was elected president of Rotary International, and the organization offered him the standard honorarium they gave to each of their presidents—$10,000. Taylor asked them to make the check out to the special nonprofit corporation set up to provide money for the conference project, and the lodge was finished.

If money comes into your hands, remember Who provides it. God allows us to have this world’s goods that we might help the world have the Good News of eternal life.

We are trustees of every material thing we possess. We are obligated to use money for the things that last, rather than for the things that perish. Herbert Taylor

A Battering Ram for Prayer

I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Jonah 4:2

When theologians talk about the attributes of God, they are referring to His characteristics, qualities, and features. As we study the vastness of creation, we discover what God is like. He is infinite, without beginning or ending in time. He is omnipresent—always present in every place. He is holy, without a trace of evil or deception about Him. He is a loving God. He is powerful.

Sometimes we compile lists or studies of the attributes of God so we can study Him more carefully. Pondering God is the highest and happiest pursuit of the human mind. We can do this in prayer. When we pray, it’s vital to focus on the wonderful qualities of God. Prayer isn’t simply a matter of bringing our needs to the Lord; it’s a matter of getting to know the God to whom we bring our needs. For every problem we face, there’s an attribute of God to help us.

Are you concerned about a loved one far from home? God is there, too. Are you worried about the future? God already knows what tomorrow holds. Are you distressed about world events? God is powerful, sovereign, and in control of all things. Try praying the attributes of God and your prayers will gain a new focus.

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? Corrie ten Boom

The Missionary’s Master and Teacher

Master Teacher
You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am . . . . I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master . . .—John 13:13, 16

To have a master and teacher is not the same thing as being mastered and taught. Having a master and teacher means that there is someone who knows me better than I know myself, who is closer than a friend, and who understands the remotest depths of my heart and is able to satisfy them fully. It means having someone who has made me secure in the knowledge that he has met and solved all the doubts, uncertainties, and problems in my mind. To have a master and teacher is this and nothing less— “. . . for One is your Teacher, the Christ . . .” (Matthew 23:8).

Our Lord never takes measures to make me do what He wants. Sometimes I wish God would master and control me to make me do what He wants, but He will not. And at other times I wish He would leave me alone, and He does not.

“You call Me Teacher and Lord . . .”— but is He? Teacher, Master, and Lord have little place in our vocabulary. We prefer the words Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer. The only word that truly describes the experience of being mastered is love, and we know little about love as God reveals it in His Word. The way we use the word obey is proof of this. In the Bible, obedience is based on a relationship between equals; for example, that of a son with his father. Our Lord was not simply God’s servant— He was His Son. “. . . though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience. . .” (Hebrews 5:8). If we are consciously aware that we are being mastered, that idea itself is proof that we have no master. If that is our attitude toward Jesus, we are far away from having the relationship He wants with us. He wants us in a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it—a relationship where all we know is that we are His to obey.

by Oswald Chambers

7 Things the Bible Says about Orphans

Psalm 68:5

The Bible has a lot to say about orphans. The Hebrew word for orphan is yatom—usually translated fatherless. It describes a child who lacks the protection and provision of a family.

The best modern equivalent for this type of person is a foster child—a child whose parents are either unable or unwilling to care for them.

Let’s see what the Bible has to say about them.

1. Orphans need justice

“Learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.” —Isaiah 1:17

Orphans need justice. An ancient orphan and a modern foster child are among the most marginalized members of society. They need someone to speak on their behalf. They need someone to rule in their favor.

2. God will hear the fatherless crying for justice

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry . . .” —Exodus 22:22–23

While God promises to hear the prayers of all people, certain people groups appear to have special access to him (Psalm 34:17, John 9:31). Orphans are one of those groups.

3. God executes justice on their behalf

“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” —Deuteronomy 10:18

God himself carries out justice on behalf of orphans. He provides for them. He protects them.

4. God is helper to the fatherless

“But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.” —Psalm 10:14

God has a track record of working on their behalf. The Psalmist knew it, and here points out God’s MO as the orphan-helper.

5. God acts as their father

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” —Psalm 68:5

One of God’s titles is Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). He doesn’t leave the fatherless without protection or provision. He steps into the void and fills it himself. How? By sending his people to care for them.

6. Caring for orphans is part of a pure religion

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” —James 1:27

What makes a pure religion? James gives us a description, and care for orphans is on the list.

7. Caring for foster kids is like caring for Jesus

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” —Mark 9:37

What is it like to care for orphans? It’s like caring for Jesus himself.

 

Ray Deck is the founder of Skookum kids, a non-profit which provides a housing solution for foster kids while they await placement in the foster care system. Learn more or support Skookum Kids at SkookumKids.org.

 

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Who Knew?: Looking Back at a Path of Faith

Faith Trust God even when you dont understand his plan
Even as a child, Cathy had an entrepreneurial streak.

He (yes, he) opened a Coca-Cola stand when he was eight and soon began selling magazines door to door. He started a paper route and won awards for recruiting customers. As a young man he returned from World War II to join his brother, Ben, in opening an Atlanta eatery. This venture got off to a rough start, however. The restaurant took in less than sixty dollars on its first day. Two years later Ben was killed in a plane crash. Cathy tried to open a second restaurant, but it burned down. He tried to establish a fast-food diner, but customers didn’t warm to the idea. But Cathy was a Christian, a Sunday school teacher, a man of faith, and not one to give up. He spent his spare time in the kitchen of the boarding house where his mother lived, working on cooking techniques and menu ideas. One day he invented a way of cooking a piece of chicken in a pressure fryer as quickly as grilling a hamburger. He gave it a name—“Chick-fil-A.”

Truett Cathy opened a Chick-fil-A counter at Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta and one thing led to another. Today Chick-fil-A has more than 1,850 restaurants in 41 states; and as you probably know, they all close on Sunday for the Lord’s Day.

When Mr. Cathy started serving meals and creating sandwiches, who knew it would become a $5 billion business? He passed away last year at the age of 93, but his enterprises have outlived him. “We live in a changing world,” he said, “but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”1

Cathy knew that in a changing world we have an unchangeable God and an unchanging message. We have a calling on our lives, and the Lord knows how He wants to use us. Psalm 139:16 says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (New Living Translation).

When our priority is stepping out by faith in God’s will, who knows what will happen? God’s plans are larger than our vision. As we trust Him, things have a way of growing beyond our wildest imagination and dreams. We may not see it all in our lifetimes, but when God calls us to do something, there’s a ripple effect that multiplies the results. In eternity, we’ll look back on the pathway with amazement at what God has done with our faith and faithfulness.

There’s no way we can foretell the future, but even now most of us can look back at the route we’ve traveled and see something of how God has directed our steps and blessed our efforts. Perhaps we grow weary along the way, but we know we have to walk by faith, putting one foot in front of the other. The further forward we go, the greater our wonder at looking back and seeing God at work.

When I began Turning Point more than thirty years ago, I had no idea God would bless us to be a worldwide television and radio ministry, with a magazine like this, with books and Bibles and the programming we have. I only knew God wanted me to step out on the trail of faith. Looking back, I can see how we got here; but along the way (and often times) I had no idea what was ahead. It hasn’t been easy, but I praise God for doing exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine—and all for His glory.

Who knew?

The Lord wants to use you too, exceedingly abundantly above all you could ask or imagine. He has plans and purposes for you that eclipse your dreams. Most of the results won’t be immediately apparent—that’s why it’s a pathway of faith. But as we serve Him day by day, He multiplies our efforts soul by soul.

Faith Attempts an Improbable Path

When we step out by faith, we are stepping onto an improbable path. Think of Noah who built a boat; of Abraham who left Ur of the Chaldees; of Moses who raised his rod over the waters; of Jeremiah who bought a lot in a warzone; of Peter and Andrew who left their fishing boats to follow One claiming to be Messiah; of Barnabas who sold his land and gave away the money. There were dark days for all these souls, perhaps moments when they wondered if it was worth it. But by faith they persevered and their faith paid off.

Serving the Lord is not a stress-free enterprise, and sometimes we may wonder if the blessings outweigh the risks. But consider Allen Francis Gardiner, a nineteenth-century officer in the British Royal Navy whose voyages left him burdened for missions. On July 4, 1844, Gardiner established an organization called the Patagonian Missionary Society to reach remote tribes on the southern end of South America. He wrote, “While God gives me strength, failure will not daunt me.”

Gardiner needed all the resolve he could muster, for his efforts failed time after time. He finally recruited six coworkers to go with him, but all seven men eventually died on Picton Island. Gardiner, the last to die, dated his final journal entry September 5, 1851: “Good and marvelous are the loving kindnesses of my gracious God unto me. He has preserved me hitherto and for four days, although without bodily food, without any feelings of hunger or thirst.”

Captain Gardiner died without seeing a single soul saved among those for whom he was burdened, but his efforts were rewarded in God’s timing. His life and story inflamed British Christians, and the missionary organization he established became known as South American Missionary Society (now SAMS), which has been sending missionaries and saving souls for more than 150 years.

Who knew? Not until heaven could Captain Gardiner look back on the pathway of faith and make sense of it, but nothing was wasted. Nothing was in vain.

Faith Achieves an Impossible Result

That’s because faith achieves an impossible result. Have you noticed how the New Testament uses the words “possible” and “impossible.” It’s an interesting study. Jesus said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 18:27 adds, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

This doesn’t mean that everything we ask represents the plan of God. We have to pray according to His will. Consider the poignant words of Jesus in Mark14:36, when He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

When we step out onto the path of faith we are saying, “Lord, all things are possible for You, but may whatever happens represent Your will, not mine.” With that attitude, there’s no limit to what God can do. As Hebrews 11:6 puts it: “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Faith has a way of achieving impossible results.

Faith Attains an Imperishable Crown

At the end of the process, faith also attains an imperishable crown. In the last days of his life as he looked back on the pathway of faith, the apostle Paul said, “I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Perhaps you have an opportunity to launch a project, fulfill a desire, attempt a task, or take the next step in a venture. Is there a project you should tackle? A ministry you should begin? A dream you should pursue? A need you should meet? A mile you should travel? It’s surprising where God can take you and what He can do when we step out and live a life of faith.

Faith attempts an improbable path, achieves an impossible result, and attains an imperishable crown. So don’t be anxious or fearful. Pray about it and don’t be afraid to take the next step. One day on earth or in heaven, you’ll look back and say: “Who knew?”

By David Jeremiah

1truettcathy.com/about.asp.

8 Bible Verses on Our Awesome God

Earth from Space
We use a lot of big words when we talk about God.

Omnipotent. Omnipresent. Omniscient. He is all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing.

If a word means all encompassing, it’s probably been used to talk about God.

Where do these words come from?

These words express the upper limit of our ability to understand power, wisdom, and time.

When Scripture tells us about the power, wisdom, and eternal nature of God, how else could we describe him?

Here are some of the ways the Bible helps us understand our awe-some God:

1. Isaiah 55:8–9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither 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.

The Faithlife Study Bible says verse eight is “a direct statement about God’s transcendence. His nature and plan are infinitely beyond human understanding. God is infinitely different from us in His thoughts and ways. Because God is holy (Leviticus 19:2), we are to strive to reach the higher and nobler ideals of his thoughts and ways, as expressed by the command to ‘be holy.’”

With three layers of study notes, the FSB lets us take an even closer look at this passage.

We can dig into the second layer of notes to read: “The biblical portrait of God develops both transcendent and immanent aspects of His nature. The transcendent nature is not like people and infinitely above people. The immanent nature is intimately present with people and among people. God’s transcendence places Him beyond the limits of time and space. His nature as uncreated and separate from His creation is a fundamental concept distinguishing a biblical understanding of God from other philosophical or religious theories, such as pantheism or monism.”

Sometimes it’s discouraging to recognize that we don’t know what God’s thinking. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t know the plan.

We serve a God that thinks about our lives, our world, and his creation on a completely different level than even the smartest human has the capacity to think.

A pastor recently share with me, “When things don’t go our way, we ask ‘Why, God, why?’ What we should be asking is ‘What, God, what?’ What is he trying to show us?”

We can’t possibly hope to understand what God’s thinking, because his thoughts transcend our own. But we can ask him questions and pray that he points us to something we can understand.

2. Isaiah 40:28

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

The FSB says that the phrase “creator of the ends of the earth” points back to Isaiah 40:27.

It states, “The focus on God as Creator and totally ‘other’ than His creation answers the statements of v. 27. Since God’s ways are unknowable, how can they make such a claim?”

We don’t know what God is thinking, so how can we say that he’s not thinking about us? (click to tweet).

3. Job 26:14

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?

In the first layer of the FSB we read, “These mighty acts of God give only a glimpse of His power. Here, Job’s description of God’s majestic power anticipates God’s speech in chapter 38.”

The FSB also comments on the phrase, “how small a whisper,” stating, “The mighty thunder and wind is only a whisper to God. This description again anticipates God’s response in chapter 38, where God speaks from a whirlwind. Elsewhere, God speaks in a whisper (1 Kings 19:11–13).”

Read chapter 38 to see God’s powerful response to Job.

4. Psalm 147:5

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

A.W. Tozer says, “Because God knows all things perfectly, he knows no thing better than any other thing, but all things equally well. He never discovers anything, he is never surprised, never amazed.”

“Beyond measure” is a tough concept to grasp. In The Heavens: Intimate Moments with Your Majestic God, Kevin Hartnett grapples with what understanding beyond measure looks like:

“Indeed, through His own gracious revelation of Himself, we can understand God in part, but we can never fully comprehend Him, or even a single one of His qualities. There will always be more of His wisdom to understand, more of His power, more of His holiness, more of His love. We will never fathom Him, and we will never tire of Him. Through all eternity, we will look upon Him and marvel at the endlessly creative, wonderfully gracious, uniquely righteous, timelessly beautiful, unsearchably glorious, infinitely loving Maker and Ruler of all.”

5. Psalm 8:3–4

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

At first glance, this verse may appear to dismiss God’s concern for our lives—but with the help of the FSB, we see that is clearly not the case.

Check out what the FSB says about the phrase, “that you think of him”:

“The psalmist marvels that God—the supreme Creator—involves Himself with humanity. Job uses a similar phrase but with a different emphasis. Instead of wondering at God’s care, Job—in the midst of his suffering—wishes God would leave him alone (Job 7:17–21).”
The FSB also discusses the phrase “your fingers”:

“The finger of God symbolizes His power: Pharaoh’s magicians attributed the third plague to the finger of God (Exodus 8:19); the finger of God wrote the Law on stone tablets (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10); in the New Testament, Jesus cast out demons by the finger of God (Luke 11:20).”

When we look at the work of God’s fingers, our lives seem far less significant—and that makes his deep concern for our lives that much more meaningful.

Consider the next verse, in light of the works of “the fingers of God.”

6. Luke 12:7

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows.

Dale C. Allison Jr. says, “Throughout the Scriptures God is held up as one who can count the humanly uncountable: clouds, sand, streams, the length of heaven, stars, etc. Faith does not make clear all mysteries, but it is consoling to believe that a loving God knows the answers.”

In What Jesus Demands from the World, John Piper elaborates on the verse, “In other words, the suffering you may undergo in speaking the truth is not because God is disinterested in you or unfamiliar with your plight. He is close enough to separate one hair from another and give each one a number. Fear not; he is close. He is interested; he cares. Be of good courage, and speak the truth whatever the cost.”

7. Jeremiah 1:5

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.

The FSB has a lot to say on this one verse. In the second layer of notes on “before you were born” it remarks:

“The Apostle Paul seems to have applied this aspect of Jeremiah’s ministry to himself in Galatians 1:14–16. Paul’s rationale in doing so appears to be based on Jeremiah’s reputation as a prophet ‘to the nations’ and reflected in his calling ‘from the womb.’ Paul makes an implicit comparison between himself and Jeremiah as a means to legitimize his own qualifications as an apostle to the Gentiles.”
God had a purpose and a plan for Jeremiah before he was even born. But that doesn’t mean Jeremiah knew his purpose—he tried to convince God he had the wrong guy (Jeremiah 1:6).

Don’t be discouraged when you don’t know God’s plan. God knows where you’re going, and he knows what you need to get there (Jeremiah 1:7–9).

8. Deuteronomy 10:17

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and does not take a bribe.

In Immersion Bible Studies: Deuteronomy, Jack A. Keller says, “The supreme God who is ‘God of all gods’ and ‘Lord of all lords’ has a special interest in the way the community treats its most vulnerable members: widows, orphans, and resident aliens (10:17–19).”
The more we recognize how powerful and mighty God is, the more incredible it is that he cares for us personally.

By Ryan Nelson

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