VIDEO When Disasters Come

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Romans 8:20-21, NLT

Nowhere on earth is truly safe. One couple moved from California to Missouri to avoid earthquakes only to be killed in a tornado. Natural disasters occur every single day—wildfires, earthquakes, floods, landsides, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, and all the rest. On average, natural disasters kill 60,000 people globally each year. The Bible teaches that when Adam and Eve sinned, a curse fell over the earth (Genesis 3:17). Since then, the entire creation has groaned and labored as with birth pangs (Romans 8:22). 

That’s why Jesus came, suffering at Calvary and rising from the dead. He came to free us from the curse of sin and to provide eternal protection from the disasters of life. One day He will create new heavens and a new earth, free from natural disasters, death, disease, drought, and sin.

Our God rules over every area of life, including natural disasters. We can trust Him who died for us and who will one day soon establish His new creation for all eternity.

The Bible presents both the reality of human suffering and death along with hope for a better future. Erwin W. Lutzer

Hope That Transcends the Groaning (Romans 8:18-25)

Safe and Still

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

As a full-of-energy preschooler, my son Xavier avoided afternoon quiet time. Being still often resulted in an unwanted, though much-needed, nap. So, he’d wiggle in his seat, slide off the sofa, scoot across the hardwood floor, and even roll across the room to evade the quiet. “Mom, I’m hungry . . . I’m thirsty . . . I have to go to the bathroom . . . I want a hug.”

Understanding the benefits of stillness, I’d help Xavier settle down by inviting him to snuggle. Leaning into my side, he’d give in to sleep.

Early in my spiritual life, I mirrored my son’s desire to remain active. Busyness made me feel accepted, important, and in control, while noise distracted me from fretting over my shortcomings and trials. Surrendering to rest only affirmed my frail humanity. So I avoided stillness and silence, doubting God could handle things without my help.

But He’s our refuge, no matter how many troubles or uncertainties surround us. The path ahead may seem long, scary, or overwhelming, but His love envelops us. He hears us, answers us, and stays with us . . . now and forever into eternity (Psalm 91).

We can embrace the quiet and lean into God’s unfailing love and constant presence. We can be still and rest in Him because we’re safe under the shelter of His unchanging faithfulness (v. 4).

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

In what ways have you seen God’s protection in your life? How can you face difficulties knowing that God has you under His wings?

Heavenly Father, thank You for providing a safe haven of unfailing love.

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God Acts on Our Behalf

Isaiah 64:1-4

The Lord is a God of action. Even when He rested after six days of creation, it wasn’t because He was tired and needed to recuperate—His creative activity may have stopped, but He never ceased working. And throughout history He has always been intimately involved in individual lives without ever relaxing control over the universe.

Sometimes, however, it may seem He’s unconcerned about us, because our prayers aren’t answered as quickly as we expect. When that happens, we need to remember it doesn’t mean God has stopped working. He is still actively involved in our lives but often in ways that are not always visible. He orchestrates circumstances, changes people’s hearts, and protects His children from making foolish decisions that could have disastrous consequences. Waiting times are opportunities for growth in character, obedience, faith, and service.

By intentionally choosing to trust and depend on God rather than doubt Him, you are cooperating with His process of spiritual growth. He alone knows what you need and when you need it. Be encouraged, knowing that God has planned good things for those who wait (Isa. 64:4). Even if you don’t get specifically what you requested, your Father’s answer will be for your eternal good and His glory. 

The Unperfect Substance

“Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)

This is an amazing verse, testifying as it does to the omniscient fore-planning of our Creator for each human being. Each person has been separately planned by God before he or she was ever conceived; His eyes oversaw our “unperfect [not imperfect, but unfinished] substance”—that is, literally, our embryo—throughout its entire development. Not only all its “members” but also all its “days” (the literal implication of “in continuance”) had been “written” in God’s book long ago.

While modern evolutionists argue that a “fetus” is not yet a real person and so may be casually aborted if the mother so chooses, both the Bible and science show that a growing child in the womb is a true human being. Instruments called fetoscopes have been able to trace every stage of embryonic development, showing that each is distinctively human, never passing through any non-human evolutionary stages such as the evolutionists’ theory of “recapitulation” would imply.

Not much is known about how a baby receives its soul, but the baby is surely an eternal human being from the moment of conception, with all its future days already well known in the mind of God, “when as yet there was none of them,” as our text points out.

But that is not all. All those who are saved (or, like the innocents who die before birth, “safe” in Christ) and whose names, therefore, are “written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) are also predestined “to be conformed to the image of his Son” in the ages to come (Romans 8:29). HMM

In Need of a Physician

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. —Psalm 23:1-3

Human nature being what it is, the man of God may soon adopt an air of constant piety and try to appear what the public thinks he is. The fixed smile and hollow tones of the professional cleric are too well known to require further mention.

All this show of godliness, by the squeeze of circumstances and through no fault of the man himself, may become a front behind which the man hides, a plaintive, secretly discouraged and lonely soul. Here is no hypocrisy, no intentional double living, no actual desire to deceive. The man has been mastered by the circumstances. He has been made the keeper of other people’s vineyards but his own vineyard has not been kept. So many demands have been made upon him that they have long ago exhausted his supply. He has been compelled to minister to others while he himself is in desperate need of a physician.   GTM115

Lord, I pray for pastors everywhere today who are indeed exhausted and depleted. The task is so overwhelming and the demands so extreme. Come today with a fresh breath of Your Spirit to refresh, renew and restore. Amen.

Free from the Flesh

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. —Romans 8:2

When the Holy Spirit is ignored or rejected, religious people are forced either to do their own creating or to fossilize completely. A few churches accept fossilization as the will of God and settle down to the work of preserving their past—as if it needed preserving. Others seek to appear modern, and imitate the current activities of the world with the mistaken idea that they are being creative. And after a fashion they are, but the creatures of the creative skill are sure to be toys and trifles, mere imitations of the world and altogether lacking in the qualities of eternity—holiness and spiritual dignity. The hallmark of the Holy Spirit is not there….

It is hard to imagine a more painful disillusionment than to come to the judgment seat of Christ and find that all our earthly lives we had been striving after the flesh and never permitting the creative Holy Spirit to work in us that which was pleasing in His sight. TWP036-037

There is a way of release from [the] tyranny [of the flesh]. It is by the cross of Jesus….That ends the bondage of the flesh. The power to live free from it comes from the Holy Ghost. TET058

Our Human Weakness

2 Corinthians 4:7

The quest for the best is admirable in many ways, but it is not without its perils. Perfectionists are notably hard to live with because, in their passion for the highest, they may fall victim to the temptation of fussiness, become impatient with people less intense than they and arrogantly critical of others.

Perfectionists are often too critical of themselves as well. The noted translator, J.B. Phillips, confesses to this, “The tyrannical super—me condemns and has no mercy on myself.” Seekers after holiness, conscientious as they invariably are, may blame themselves for feelings, weakness or shortcomings about which they have no choice and over which they have no control.

One of Satan’s favorite devices with holiness seekers is to set standards so high that no one could attain them, and then to condemn the conscientious struggler for failing. Allister Smith counsels, “We must be careful not to excuse our sins by calling them faults, nor must we make the opposite mistake of regarding faults in ourselves or in others as sin.” That requires that we make a distinction between iniquity and infirmity, without being either too easy or too hard on ourselves.

Come back to the simplicities. You did not save yourself, and you cannot sanctify yourself. Look to Christ who “is able to save completely those who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25).

Dr. Daniel Steele (one of Commissioner Brengle’s early tutors) pointed out that infirmities are always involuntary, while sins are always voluntary. Paul makes the same point, writing, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

That the Spirit-filled man still has his weaknesses the Bible simply takes for granted. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26).

To be quite honest, we believers must admit to rebel emotions and unresolved conflicts. Given a complete dedication to Christ, the therapy and grace will begin quietly to work, and healing will proceed until it results in a beautiful wholeness. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Edward Read, Studies in Sanctification