The Inexhaustible Masterpiece
They say that students and lovers of art will spend weeks sitting before a single masterpiece by one of the great artists. Some repeat this process year after year. To fully enjoy such a masterful work of art they need to immerse themselves in it for hour and hours. There was a man who said that he spent years studying a painting and that he was able to “discover some new beauty and a new joy” every time.
I enjoy a great painting or sculpture but it seems impossible to me that a person, even an expert or enthusiast, could spend weeks and weeks pouring over a piece of art and continue discovering something new, a “new beauty or joy.” They say that they can find some new part of the painting, a certain stroke of the brush, a use of color or some other fine detail that others never see.
If there is that much beauty and intricate detail in a painting, a creation of man, how much truer of God’s creation. A creation so vast we haven't discovered its full splendor much less study and observe it. Which brings up the question; if the creation is so expansive and magnificent, what does that say about the one who created it? We can sometimes become so familiar that we don’t look beyond the creation to the Creator.
God Almighty, the Creator, is much bigger than we could ever imagine.
Job 11:7-8 NIV “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
God is far higher than you can imagine, far deeper than you can comprehend, Stretching farther than earth’s horizons, far wider than the endless ocean.”
There is a depth to the nature of God that we have yet to see and enjoy. If we had ten thousand years we would have only scratched the surface of the immensity of His glory. God is an inexhaustible masterpiece.
Can our little minds comprehend how big God is? Of course not but that’s the very reason we keep coming back. There is a newness and a freshness to God, not because there is something new about God but because we see Him and experience Him in a way we have not done so before. It’s as if we have discovered some new beauty and joy each time.
Sometimes the joy comes in the rediscovery of a beauty that we have all but forgotten, one that God has framed in a new setting providing an even greater appreciation. As we grow so does our capacity for understanding and enjoying the person and work of our God.
What Is God’s Greatest Masterpiece?
God is the inexhaustible masterpiece, but what would you say is the greatest of His masterpieces?
You could give many different answers to that question. Many would say that God’s greatest masterpiece is the sunset that paints the evening sky or the millions of stars that twinkle so beautifully each night. Others might point to the majestic mountain ranges or the mighty, rushing rivers. And some might say the flowers that bloom in the spring or the many amazing creatures that populate our planet.
You Are God’s Greatest Masterpiece
All of those masterpieces are impressive, but none of them are the greatest that God has created. If you are a Christian you probably saw one of these works of art already today . . . that is, if you looked in a mirror. Yes, YOU are the greatest of God’s masterpieces.
Actually God’s greatest masterpieces have been created twice.
Genesis 1:26-27 NASB Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
You "are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus "
Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
God views you as His treasured possession.
Deuteronomy 14:2 NIV for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.
To Him, you are a rare jewel in His hand.
Isaiah 62:3 NIV You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Maybe you don’t feel treasured, cared for, valuable, or worthy. What would change about your life if you saw yourself as you truly are—as precious and treasured by God?
What if on this very day, God were to reveal to you all the ways He treasures you? Imagine how you treat your most precious, treasured possession. You protect it carefully; you position in it the best light; you refresh any parts of it that seem worn or fading. If we care for our earthly valuables in this way, consider how much more God will protect us, position us, and refresh us.
When God chose you to belong to Him, He never meant to leave you on your own to suffer and wander alone as a disregarded, worthless person. Instead, He carefully cares for you.
Scripture makes the astonishing claim that God will “never stop doing good” to His people;
Jeremiah 32:40 NIV I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (emphasis mine)
He “richly blesses all who call on him”;
Romans 10:12 NIV For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, ( emphasis mine)
He “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”;
1 Timothy 6:17 NIV Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (emphasis mine)
He “satisfies [our]desires with good things”
Psalm 103:2-5 NIV Praise the Lord , my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (emphasis mine)
This is a God who delights in your well-being and seeks to love and care for you as His treasured possession.
Consider the gentle care of God in Psalm 23. He makes you lie down to rest; He leads you to peaceful waters; He restores your soul; He guides you. God is a Good Shepherd caring for you tenderly.
Psalm 23:1-6 MSG God , my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
As you trust in God’s care for your life, remember He arranges the circumstances of your day to ultimately bless you and restore your soul. But just like a rare jewel might need some shining and sculpting to reveal its true beauty, God may put you in situations designed to refine you and rub off anything that obscures your beauty. The whole time, though, He’s treasuring you and showing you His care and love. On this day, look for evidence that God chose you as His treasured possession.
What Happens When God Turns You Into His Masterpiece?
You are Forgiven
Do not let your past mistakes keep you from living the joyful life God wants you to have. His love and grace is bigger than any sin.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
1 John 1:9 NASB So If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You Show Other People How Great God Is
You are a living, breathing testimony of God’s grace and love through Jesus Christ. God says He picked you to be part of a new family, meant to show the difference He can make in a life.
1 Peter 2:9 NASB But you are A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession , so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Your life is like a beautiful painting that gives recognition to its painter. As God’s masterpiece,
Matthew 5:14-16 NASB "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
You Become the Light of the World
Jesus sets you free from the slavery of sin when you accept Christ. Sin won’t control you anymore. God gives you the Holy Spirit, who is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Romans 8:11 NASB But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
When you have the Holy Spirit, you will reflect God’s love, peace and patience through the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 NASB But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
God has created you to be a masterpiece so that He could show you off! He has a plan and purpose for you. He wants you to be that showpiece everyone talks about. The next time you look in the mirror say it out loud for your brain to capture. “I am God’s masterpiece!”
Editor's Note: Some content is from the YouVersion Reading Plan “What Is God's Plan For Me? 7 InvitationsTo Life You’ve Been Missing”, published by Moody Publishing. Scriptural content added by the blog publisher. Additional content from the sermon God’s Masterpiece.
One question that I get a lot is; “Pastor do I really have to forgive everything, every time”? I have an answer but before I give it let’s see what the bible says about it? Whenever someone asks me a question dealing with relationships I always defer to the bible because it’s the manual that God gave to guide us on how to forgive.
First let’s define forgive. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
· to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
· to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
· to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)
To forgive is to stop feeling anger toward someone or about something, to pardon them.
The Bible commands us to forgive each other. Here are two examples:
Matthew 6:14 (HCSB) “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.
Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Jesus’ comment to Peter when he asked how many times we should forgive implies constant forgiveness without holding it against the one we forgive.
Matthew 18:21-22 (HCSB) 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.
Why should we give anybody a clean slate who has wronged us? Because God, who is our example for how to forgive, does. Through Jesus He forgives and overlooks everything that we have done and do against Him, so that we can have eternal life and an eternal inheritance.
Micah 7:18 (HCSB) Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold on to His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love.
Forgiveness is an act of the will and since God commands us to forgive we must make that choice. We must forgive even if the person who offended us doesn’t ask for or doesn’t even want forgiveness.
Matthew 5:44-45 (HCSB) 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Faith and Forgiveness: Louis Zamperini
by Will Graham, excerpted from Redeemed
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. — Ephesians 4:31-32
Louis Zamperini was an Olympic runner destined for greatness as he prepared for the 1940 Summer Games in Tokyo, only to have them cancelled as World War II enveloped the globe.
Rather than winning gold, Louis joined the military to serve his country aboard a B-24, taking part in several successful bombing missions in the Pacific Theater. One fateful day, while on a search and rescue mission in an old dilapidated airplane, Louis’s crew crashed in the ocean. Everybody on board was killed except Louis, his pilot Allen “Phil” Phillips, and tail gunner Francis “Mac” McNamara. The men floated in a life raft for forty-seven days (a record for the longest time adrift without rescue), living off the rare bird or fish they could catch with their bare hands — and all while dodging sharks and the occasional strafing run by Japanese warplanes. Mac didn’t survive, dying along the way.
Eventually Louis and Phil reached shore, but it was by way of an enemy Japanese ship that pulled them from the sea. From there, a bad dream became an utter nightmare. Months of starvation, disease, psychological trauma, unimaginable living conditions, and daily abuse at the hands of sadistically brutal prison guards reduced Louis to a shell of the once-great athlete. The list of regular and ongoing assaults that Louis endured would shock and nauseate you.
One of the few things that kept Louis alive during his horrifying ordeal was the dream of murdering his captors. In fact, one of the men was so cruel that Louis and the other prisoners hatched a plan to kill him, even if the punishment would be their own executions.
Amazingly, Louis survived and made it home to California, only to find himself living in a new prison — one of post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, and alcoholism. He was a broken man in a downward spiral.
Why do I share this story? Because something amazing happened. At his wife’s urging, he attended my grandfather’s historic 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, and there he placed his faith in Christ. Miraculously, his nightmares and need for alcohol were gone. He fully and completely forgave his captors, the very people he had dreamt of killing. He even traveled back to Japan to meet with some of them face-to-face so he could share the hope and love of Jesus with them.
“In one bold stroke, forgiveness obliterates the past and permits us to enter the land of new beginnings.” — Billy Graham
The story of Louis Zamperini is one of the greatest examples of forgiveness that I’ve found outside of the Bible.
Nobody could have expected to survive the torture that Louis endured, let alone recover from it. And most people would understand completely if Louis had held a grudge against his tormentors until the day he died. After all, he was treated subhumanly, beaten, and starved within an inch of his life.
It took time and the intervention of Jesus Christ and the gospel in Louis’s life before he was able to fully move forward beyond the suffering he had endured.
I can’t speak for you, but I can tell you that even as a believer and an evangelist, I still struggle with forgiveness even though the injustices that affect me are a far cry from the terror endured by Louis Zamperini.
However, let’s draw inspiration from Louis’s story and seek the freedom that comes with forgiving those who have hurt us. Louis’s life is proof that it can be done, and it’s worth doing.
Are you holding on to anger or pain? What’s stopping you from offering forgiveness?
Lord Jesus, You know the pains and struggles in my life. You know the hurt in my heart left there by others. Help me to forgive them as You have forgiven me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Excerpted with permission from Redeemed by Will Graham, copyright William F. Graham, Jr.
Last Thanksgiving I published “This Thanksgiving Stop Faking Fine”. In it I included a devotion written by Esther Fleece, author of No More Faking Fine. This Thanksgiving I am sharing another devotion from Esther with the same story line of not faking our real feelings and trying to hide from God. He knows them anyway so why not be real and open with Him. When we’re open with God, in prayer, about our feelings of sadness, or frustration, even anger our prayer is one of lament. Lament is an expression of grief or sorrow. In other words, as she says in her devotion “God Wants Our Sad”, lament is simply expressing honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned.
God Wants Our Sad
By Esther Fleece
I’ll bet you can remember some of the pivotal moments that taught you to fake fine to one degree or another. Maybe you grew up being told that boys don’t cry, so you stuffed your pain deep inside. Maybe you had all the right clothes and all the right friends and all the right grades, but you never invited friends over — because then they’d know the mess you lived with at home. Maybe you were told that if you just did certain things and clicked your heels, you’d have the good life you’ve always wanted — you know, the one the prosperity gospel is always promising — but you haven’t even glimpsed it on the horizon.
The story our culture tells us — and even some misguided churches — is that health, wealth, and prosperity can and should be ours. As Americans, we are often led to believe we are entitled to these things. We are led to believe life should be easy, and we should be happy.
So, of course, when life crashes hard, we believe something must be wrong with us. And that’s exactly what I began to believe.
I was always wanting more, wanting to do more, and wanting to make a bigger impact for the Kingdom. But suddenly I felt my efforts were as useless as banging my head against a brick wall. I didn’t go to a university to be unemployed, and I certainly hadn’t built a home for myself only to be living with family again at the age of thirty. I was taught I could be anyone and do anything. I had been taught to take what was mine and fight to the top, but I had not been taught what to do when all you do is not enough.
Somewhere along the way, I missed out on learning a theology of suffering.
Prayer was a significant part of my life, yet I had never been taught about the prayer called lament.
Lament is one of those words we don’t use very much today. It’s not a regular entry in our vocabulary, even with us church people. I was in my late twenties before I really even knew what this word meant, despite growing up in church and staying connected to a Christian community in my early adult years. When everything hit rock bottom, it was my counselor who was the one to first explain it to me.
Lament, he said, is simply expressing honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned. Whether we’re hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed, overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, lament is the language God has given us to talk to Him right in the middle of life’s messes. It’s real talk with God when you’re hurting, when all you can do is cry out for His help. It’s a prayer that says, God, I’m hurting — will You meet me here? And as such, it is a prayer to which God always responds.
This is not a prayer for the super-spiritual. Lament is a prayer for all of us.
Not everyone experiences prosperity, but everyone we know will know loss and grief. Each and every one of us will experience setbacks, letdowns, failures, and betrayals. Every one of us will encounter change that is hard, lose loved ones before their time, and see relationships fail with people we counted on.
So what do we do when everything is not fine? Why are we shooting for the easy-street, pain-free life anyway? Where did we come up with the idea that we should be happy all the time?
We all need do-over days, and sometimes we will wake up, eat a bowl of ice cream for breakfast, and head straight back to bed. This should not surprise us because Scripture tells us that we will go through different seasons — not all of them pleasant.
Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, the only home they’d ever known.
The Israelites wandered the wilderness for forty years before they entered the Promised Land.
The prophets ripped their clothing, grieved in the streets, and warned God’s people to repent and return.
Jesus died the most gruesome death the Romans could come up with. And the early church faced persecution of all kinds.
I don’t see many easy-street lives in the Bible. And I certainly don’t see God demanding that we keep a stiff upper lip through hard times.
In fact, D. A. Carson, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, writes, “There is no attempt in Scripture to whitewash the anguish of God’s people when they undergo suffering. They argue with God, they complain to God, they weep before God. Theirs is not a faith that leads to dry-eyed stoicism, but to a faith so robust it wrestles with God.”1
So where do all the clichés and false hopes we use to explain suffering come from? Not the Bible, and certainly not from God Himself.
My insistence that I have a nice, easy, “fine” life was not only unbiblical; it was also an unrealistic expectation that ended up making me feel disengaged from God and disappointed in Him. I thought I was suffering because I had done something wrong. I had fallen for clichés, which only increased my pain.
The majority of us have said or heard predictable clichés in times of suffering.
“If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.”
“It could have been worse.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
This is not a biblical way of thinking, nor is it a biblical way of dealing. We say these things because, somewhere along the way, we lost the biblical language of lament. We have not discovered the beauty in sorrow, so we try to get out of pain as quickly as possible — and we expect others to do so as well. But life will let all of us down, and we need a way to talk about it — a way we have lost along the way.
I have learned through the years that God does not want just our happy; He also really wants our sad.
Everything is not fine, and God wants to hear about it. He is drawn to us when we’re mourning and blesses us in a special way. God is not up there minimizing our pain and comparing it to others who have it worse than we do. God wants all pain to be surrendered to Him, and He has the capacity to respond to it all with infinite compassion.
What’s more, lament is a pathway. Honest expression to God makes way for God to come and work His real healing. Lament is a channel for powerful transformation. It is exactly the kind of song we need for hope and healing.
For so much of my life, I thought sucking it up and faking away the pain showed true strength. But real strength is identifying a wound and asking God to enter it. We are robbing ourselves of a divine mystery and a divine intimacy when we pretend to have it all together. In fact, we lose an entire vocabulary from our prayers when we silence the reality of our pain.
If questions and cries and laments are not cleaned up throughout Scripture, then why are we cleaning them up or removing them completely from our language?
Nobody likes dealing with pain, but we lose so much by wishing it away. What has silencing laments cost us? It has cost us far more than church attendance; it has prevented people from feeling comfortable enough to even enter our church doors. Many have walked away from Christian community because of how they were treated when they were in pain. And some have even left the faith entirely because they weren’t receiving the “prosperity” they were told they were entitled to as believers.
Maybe the reason the church has gained a reputation of being inauthentic and superficial is because we have not let our laments be heard — by each other or even by ourselves.
How often have you tried not to cry your own tears? Maybe you’re like me, and you weren’t prepared for life to be shockingly painful at times. Or maybe you believe, as I did, that you have to fake fine because God wants strong, un-anxious Christians. I know I am not the only one who minimizes my pain, works hard to get out of it, or just pretends that everything is okay. But I have found that if we minimize our suffering to a 3 on the pain scale, then we only heal at a 3 as well.
Has your pain ever been silenced or carelessly addressed? Have you ever been met with a “suck it up” when your pain has been exposed? How about someone wrongly diagnosing your pain and giving advice when you never asked for it? Or someone offering a fix-it-overnight formula not found anywhere in Scripture? I have yet to meet a person who truly has everything together. Think of the people who say everything is “fine” all the time. How many times is “how are you?” asked in our church hallways and coffee times only to be responded with an automatic “good!” — even if it’s not true? The church is supposed to be the safest place to share our pain. It should be a sanctuary for our healing. And yet the epidemic of faking fine has reached into its walls as well.
We are a wounded people, but in a prosperous and entitled culture, we have not learned enough about the holy and healing power of grieving our losses honestly. We are not kind to ourselves when it comes to processing grief and heartache. Many of us expect ourselves to simply move on after trauma or loss — when life is not that simple at all.
Scripture doesn’t tell us to pretend we’re peaceful when we’re not, act like everything is fine when it’s not, and do everything we can to suppress our sorrow. God doesn’t insist that we go to our “happy place” and ignore our sad, yet so many of our churches preach that we will have peace and prosperity just by virtue of being Christians. Scripture, in contrast, tells us that as followers of Christ, we are called to serve a “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3 NASB) who died a gruesome death. Until we identify ourselves with our Savior and acknowledge, as He did, just how painful life can be, we won’t be able to lament or to overcome. And if we silence our own cries, then we will inevitably silence the cries of those around us. We cannot carefully address the wounds of others if we are carelessly addressing our own.
The fact is, God does not expect us to have it all together, so it is a real disservice when our Christian communities create this expectation. We will be unsuccessful at sitting with hurting people if we have not allowed ourselves to grieve and wail and mourn and go through the lament process ourselves. God understands that life is full of pressures, hurts, stings. He took on flesh so He could relate to us in both our joy and pain. He wants us to feel and express every emotion before Him and not minimize a thing. There is no “fake it till you make it” in Scripture. When we fake fine, we fake our way out of authentic relationship with God, others, and ourselves.
If you’ve ever been given empty clichés during challenging times, you know how painful it can feel to be misunderstood by well-meaning people. Far too often, it seems the response we get to our hurt and disappointment is to suck it up, or pray it away. But Scripture reveals a God who meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be. No More Faking Fine is your invitation to get gut-level honest with God through the life-giving language of lament. Lament, a practice woven throughout Scripture, is a prayer that God never ignores, never silences, and never wastes. As author Esther Fleece says, “Lament is the unexpected pathway to true intimacy with God, and with those around us.” Esther learned this the hard way, by believing she could shut down painful emotions that haunted her from a broken past she tried to forget on her fast track to success. But in silencing her pain, she robbed herself of the opportunity to be healed. Maybe you’ve done the same. No More Faking Fine is your permission to lament—to give voice to the hurt, frustration, and disappointment you’ve kept inside and silenced for too long. Drawing from careful biblical study and hard-won insight, Esther reveals how to use God’s own language to draw closer to Him as He leads us through any darkness into His marvelous light. No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending Regular price $16.99
Here are three prayers you can pray before your meal this Thanksgiving. I know that at some of our gatherings with friends and family there may be a range of beliefs from the devout Christian to other beliefs to the atheist. These prayers are filled with thanksgiving and gratitude, and should be comfortable to all.
They will also help you and your family and friends pause long enough to thank God for all He’s done in your lives over the past year.
A Prayer of Thanks for Food and Family
Thank You, Lord God, for this food we are about to eat. Thank You for the hands that have prepared it, for those sitting around the table who are here to share it, and for the ability to be here together under one roof, and enjoy these blessings at Your hand. We realize that everything we have comes from You and for that we are eternally grateful. We also thank You for what we don’t have this year, for we trust that You have withheld in Your goodness and out of Your protection for us. Thank You that Scripture says You are a Good Father who loves to give gifts to Your children. We sit here as evidence of Your goodness. Thank You for the gift of today and all who are here to share it with us. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen
A Prayer of Thanks for Blessings Past and Present
Lord God, we gather around this table to humbly thank You for all that You have given us this past year – not just what is on this table, but who is sitting around this table. Thank you for life and laughter, for health and happiness, for relationships and memories. Thank you, too, for the lessons learned and the tears we’ve cried because of Your ability to grow us through them. Thank You for Your comfort and Your presence, in light of good days and bad. Thank You for what we have now, for what we had yesterday, and for what You will continue to give tomorrow. Let us never take that for granted, but to always be grateful for every good and perfect gift that comes from You. May we have hearts full of thanksgiving not only today but every day of our lives. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Amen.
A Prayer of Thanks for Who God is and What He has Given
Heavenly Father, it is with sincere hearts that we thank You for Who You are and all You have given to us, by Your grace. Thank You not just for this food, but for your Son, whom Scripture calls the Bread of Life. Thank You, God, for the greatest gift you could ever give us: forgiveness through the death of Your Perfect Son, Jesus, on the cross for us. Thank You for the righteousness You credited toward us, through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thank You for the hope we have, through Jesus, that we will never die, but live forever in Your presence, when we trust in Him alone for our salvation. Thank You, God, for all that You have allowed and not allowed in our lives this past year so we could rely on You more. Thank You for answered prayer, as well as unanswered prayer. We acknowledge Your goodness in what You have decided to allow and what You have determined to withhold. We commit our lives anew to You this day and ask that You would continue to remind us, throughout this next year, that You are God, You are on the throne, and You are eternally good. Thank You, finally, that we can pray in the name of Jesus, who made our access to You – and a personal relationship with You – possible. Amen.
Editor’s Note: Prayers from 3 Short Thanksgiving Prayers and Blessings to Say before Your Meal by Cindi McMenamin
When people let you down, it hurts. But feeling like God isn’t even on your side wounds so much deeper. Especially when you pour your heart out begging him to help and it seems as if He’s light years away.
We have to start from the right perspective. We must realize how small we are and how big God is. How short our time of existence compared to His eternity.
Psalm 90:2 (NLT)2 Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.
2 Peter 3:8 (NLT)8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.
Psalm 39:4 (NLT)4 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.
Here is an example of how big God is compared to us. If the Milky Way galaxy were the size of the entire continent of North America, our solar system would fit in a coffee cup. That’s the size of our solar system in the Milky Way galaxy. Now consider that there are perhaps 100 billion galaxies in the universe. It would take 15 billion years to send a lightspeed message (100,000 miles per hour) to the edge of the universe.
Psalm 8:1-9 (NLT)1 O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.2 You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.3 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place--4 what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them?5 Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.6 You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority--7 the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals,8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents.9 O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
We must realize how small we are and how big God is, and how short our time of existence compared to eternity.
Psalm 90:2 (NLT)2 Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.
2 Peter 3:8 (NLT)8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.
Psalm 39:4 (NLT)4 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.
We tend to rely on our own sufficiency and our own issues but we need to as best we can as humans, look at the relationship from God’s perspective.
Psalm 39:4 (HCSB)4 “LORD, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. Let me know how short-lived I am.
Psalm 90:12 (HCSB)12 Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.
James 4:13-14 (HCSB)13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.”14 You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are ⌊like⌋ smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
1 Peter 1:24 (HCSB)24 For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,
When Job was having his trouble he questioned some things too and he wanted God to answer him and he got this response;
Job 38:1-11 (HCSB)1 Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind. He said:2 Who is this who obscures ⌊My⌋ counsel with ignorant words?3 Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me.4 Where were you when I established the earth? Tell ⌊Me⌋, if you have understanding.5 Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?6 What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone7 while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?8 Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb,9 when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its blanket,10 when I determined its boundaries and put ⌊its⌋ bars and doors in place,11 when I declared: “You may come this far, but no farther; your proud waves stop here”?
He got the message
Job 40:3-5 (HCSB)3 Then Job answered the LORD:4 I am so insignificant. How can I answer You? I place my hand over my mouth.5 I have spoken once, and I will not reply; twice, but ⌊now⌋ I can add nothing.
With these things in mind we might want to consider:
Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
We are really not in control of the world God is. We are not really in control of our futures, God is. The only response to our problems or our condition is to be still and turn them over to God.
We have to realize who we really are in comparison to God in our relationship with Him. When we acknowledge that we are so very small we are in our imperfection, when compared to God who is perfect it establishes the right ground rules of how we relate to God. We have to admit that we are helpless. Human beings don’t ordinarily like to admit that we need help,
We have to level with God about bitterness over an unanswered prayer, grief, over loss, guilt over an unforgiving spirit, a baffling sense of God’s absence. If we don’t do that the relationship with God won’t go any further that a shallow relationship that we have with another person where that person is just a casual friend. With a casual friend we engage in small talk and don’t get too personal about our lives. If we do that we will only engage in formal prayers and never break through what Philip calls the intimacy barrier. We have to learn to trust God with what He already knows.
A Prayer for When Things Don’t Go in Your Way
By Lori Freeland
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
It’s easy to blame God when life goes wrong. He can do anything. Stop anything. Change anything. But sometimes He doesn’t. People have free will. The world is full of death and disease and sin. Bad things happen to good people—even good Christian people.
God never promised I’d get what I want, that my days would be easy, that just because I chose to follow Him I wouldn’t suffer, or that He’d let me skip the bad parts of life. And that’s where disappointment comes in, hitting the hardest when I confuse what I think God owes me with what He actually told me:
He said I should give thanks. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).
He said He understands my challenges. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:16)
He said I wouldn’t be crushed. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
He said I’d never be alone. “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar… You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways…You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me… Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139: 2,3,5,7,8).
When I look at these verses, I remember true peace always finds me when I give thanks in the worst of situations. I remember that I’m still here, still living, not destroyed, even when people and situations have tried to break me. I remember the times He walked me through the darkness of feeling alone and abandoned.
As my perspective changes, so does my disappointment. God’s purpose isn’t to wrap me in that bubble and keep me away from the harsh realities of the world, it’s to walk with me through them. His purpose is to refine my faith.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (I Peter 1:6,7).
If you’re hurting and you feel like God has let you down, don’t lose faith just yet. Not before you take an honest look at your disappointment. Just like it would be unfair of me to blame my boss for not giving me a promotion he never offered, it’s unfair to judge God’s love for us based on what we want Him to give us rather than what He wants to give.
Lord, Your ways aren’t our ways. It sounds so simple. I’ve memorized the verse. But help those words sink in. Show me Your perspective through Your eyes. Help me to see that while I’m a small part of the bigger picture You have planned, you love me and I’m part of Your purpose. Rather than blame You when things go wrong, help me to remember You’re the only one who’s right there beside me as I crawl through the fire. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at his feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to thee,
Fill me with thy love and power,
Let thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to his name!
The Story Behind I Surrender All
Judson Van DeVenter was born on a farm in Michigan in 1855. Following graduation from Hillsdale College, he became an art teacher and supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania. He was, in addition, an accomplished musician, singer, and composer. Van DeVenter was also an active layman in his Methodist Episcopal Church, involved in the church's evangelistic meetings. Recognizing his talent for the ministry, friends urged him to give up teaching and become an evangelist. Van DeVenter wavered for five years between becoming a recognized artist or devoting himself to ministry. Finally, he surrendered his life to Christian service and wrote the text of the hymn while conducting a meeting at the Ohio home of noted evangelist George Sebring.
Following his decision to surrender his life to the Divine, Van DeVenter traveled throughout the United States, England, and Scotland, doing evangelistic work. Winfield S. Weeden, his associate and singer, assisted him for many years. Toward the end of his life, Van DeVenter moved to Florida and was a professor of hymnology at the Florida Bible Institute for four years in the 1920s. After his retirement, he remained involved in speaking and in religious gatherings. Van DeVenter published more than 60 hymns in his lifetime, but "I Surrender All" is his most famous.
"I Surrender All" was put to music by Weeden, and first published in 1896 in Gospel Songs of Grace and Glory, a collection of old and new hymns by various hymnists, compiled by Weeden, Van DeVenter, and Leonard Weaver, and published by Sebring Publishing Co. Weeden, born in Ohio in 1847, taught in singing schools prior to becoming an evangelist and was a noted song leader and vocalist. His tombstone is inscribed with the title of this hymn, "I Surrender All".
A Prayer Of Surrender
By Dr. James MacDonald
“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27, NASB).
One of the great hymns we sang two or three times a month in the church where I grew up was the old invitation chorus, “I Surrender All.” But despite all the earnest intentions evoked when you’re with your congregation belting those lyrics from your heart, something’s almost deceptively easy about surrendering our “all” to Jesus. Christians are quick to sign up for the comprehensive, no-holds release of a generic, theoretical “all.” Feels good just saying it. Take it all, God, all of it. I surrender everything to You.
The problem comes when “all” becomes specific. We may be up for surrendering “all” to Him, but perhaps not surrendering . . . this.
See? That’s harder . . . when the surrender is specific, when it’s not an abstract all, but a concrete this.
Like when Christ—in the days immediately preceding His arrest, torture, and eventual death on the cross—saw the sun of His suffering begin to rise above the horizon of His thoughts. In seeing it, He could feel the full weight of what His atoning death would cost. No wonder He was “Troubled”—even as the Son of God. Yet what did He do with the anguish, anxiety, and horror of the situation?
He surrendered. He surrendered Himself to the Father’s will and purpose. And in doing so, He left us an example, that we might “Follow In His Steps”
1 Peter 2:21 NIV To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
When everything inside you is saying you can’t do this or get through it—“Please, Lord, get me out of this!”—observe the Second Person of the Trinity silhouetted against the God-darkened sky late on a Friday afternoon, and behold what can be accomplished for God’s glory and purpose through a single individual who not only surrenders everything from a distance, but surrenders one specific thing at close range.
Lord God, Thank You For Showing Us The Ultimate Example Of What Surrender Truly Is, Through The Gift Of Your Son, And Through The Surrender Of His Life For Our Sins. You’ve Called Me To Surrender My All As Well, And You’ve Heard Me Say That’s What I Intend To Do. Help Me Put My Zeal Into Practice—Even When Surrender Has A Name And A Face And A Measurable Cost. I Surrender All, And Especially That One Thing, Trusting In The Name Of The One Who Surrendered All For Me, Amen.
Editor’s Note: Some content taken from the Our Journey Online devotional, Terms of Surrender, written by Dr. James MacDonald.
Now that the dust has settled from last Tuesday, Election Day, (except in Florida, Georgia and a few Congressional District elections), let’s all take a breath and relax for a while. It doesn’t matter if you liked the outcome or not I think we can all agree that we are blessed to live in a nation where, for the most part, we are able to make our choices known at the “ballot box.” In many, perhaps most places that’s not the case.
If we don’t like the results we’ll have another opportunity. Meanwhile since we have to live with the results, good or bad, why not pray for the nation. That includes praying for all those who were elected and for those currently in office whether we like or agree with them. I think that everyone who knows me or reads my Facebook and Twitter posts.knows how I feel about our current leadership, but that doesn’t stop me from praying for the nation so that I can continue to live and worship in peace without government intervention.
1 Timothy 2:1-2, 4 NIV I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
If you agree with our current leaders pray for them, their protection, and for sound godly advisers. If they are not saved pray for their salvation.
If you disagree with them and you believe that their leadership is not godly, even evil, then still pray for their protection, and that they be surrounded by and that they listen to godly advisers. If they’re not saved pray for their salvation.
You can also pray that ungodly leaders be removed because as the Scriptures say;
Proverbs 29:2 NIV When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.
Pray that God would accomplish His purposes through them regardless of their willingness to be used by Him. We can petition the Most High to work through even those who are resisting Him to fulfill His purposes.
Proverbs 21:1 (NLT) The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
May we be faithful, informed and thoughtful when praying and talking to others about our politics, and as we ask for God’s wisdom and righteousness to be evident in our nation’s policies and leaders.
A Prayer For Our Nation
I read a prayer today that was written by By Dustin Dedrick that we can all pray. If you’re liberal you can pray this prayer; if you’re conservative you can pray this prayer; if you’re moderate pray this prayer;even if you don’t believe in prayer you can agree with the things in this prayer.
Lord God, we desperately need your wisdom. You have given us a great country, founded on principles and truths from Your Word. We need men and women who will honor You, trust You, and lead us once again back to You. We pray for servant leaders who love the things You love and who care more about others than themselves.
Give us leaders with discerning hearts, bold faith, and wise minds that model Your character. Teach them-and us-not just what is good, but what is best. Guide them in the way our country should go. Give them purity in their intentions, and godliness in their convictions. Energize their spirits and bodies physically and spiritually, and keep them emotionally secure in the knowledge of who You are-and whose they are. Help them to be bighearted and sincere, energetic in goodness, and courteous in their manners.
Raise up leaders with the greatest potential of godly leadership, those who can ease confusion, expose illusion, and heal delusion. You alone hold the power to turn the hearts of leaders, but You listen and use our prayers to move them into right action. Help us to be faithful to care and to pursue Your heart in prayer.
Help our leaders to be quick to admit failure, but ready to rebound in persistent resilience. Encourage them to choose wisely, and when they don’t know what to do, help them keep their eyes on You. Let them take a firm stand on issues that truly matter to You, regardless of the consequences or approval ratings. Make them God-pleasers, not puppets; leaders filled with conviction, not corruption.
As a nation, God, help us to desire righteousness more than rights, and to mirror sacrifice more than selfishness. You know us well, and You understand our flaws. Turn those weaknesses into strengths; bathe us with Your grace and mercy, though none of us deserve it. Fill us with the boldness to choose the kind of freedom that will benefit all, rather than a few. Open our eyes to see others as You do-with godly potential and value. But help us, too, to recognize our own pride in trying to elevate ourselves and others above You and Your purpose for our lives.
We need, You, God. Oh, how we need You! You have exercised nothing but faithfulness and fairness in Your treatment of our country, even when we’ve turned our back on You and forgotten Your goodness to us. Your discipline at times is hard, but You are just. Your purpose is always to draw us close to You, to bless us, and to make us a great nation who honors You. You are a good, good, Father-and Your love for us has a proven track record.
Forgive us for wanting our own way and making our own paths-often the ones paved with least resistance. Forgive us for fence-walking, or for ignoring completely the truths that can so easily set us free. Deliver us from mindless quarrels and destinations that lead us nowhere, but away from You. Free us from divisiveness, and melt our hardened hearts to love, not hate, and to heal, not debate.
Our history has cried for king-like leaders who will solve our problems and meet our needs. But there is only one King, and that is You, Lord. We have blindly sought answers from others to life’s unresolved questions through the years, but You are the only wise Counselor. We have longed for peace, but You are the only Peacemaker, and the only Prince of Peace. We've clung to our weapons of warfare, not as measures of defense, but as strongholds of selfish pride. We look at outward appearances; You see the heart. With You, nothing formed against us can prosper. Without You, we are nothing.
Make us a great nation, yes. But more than that, make us good, Lord, with a heartbeat that wants every person of every creed and color to know Your love, Your goodness, and Your worth. Make us wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. Turn our fears to faith, as we look to You and You alone for the future of our country. Give us God-confidence that no matter what happens, we will believe You are not only in control, but that You know exactly what is needed to accomplish Your purpose. Help us not to second-guess Your moves, but to move at Your command, always without hesitation.
We look to You and to You, only, Lord. Help us make wise decisions that move our country in the right direction. Help us to do our part in praying and in staying with what we know is right according to the truth of Your Word. Teach us to make our actions count and our words matter, and line them both up to Your sense of rightness, not ours. Guide us with Your eye; grip us with Your strong arm; teach us what we need to know to make our lives-and our nation-count for you. We pray for our leaders, but we ask You to make us both leaders and followers: leading in the way of Truth, and following those who honor You.
In the precious and powerful name of Jesus,
Scriptures To Pray For Our Leaders
Psalm 2:10-11 NIV Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Proverbs 11:14 NIV For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
Job 12:23-25 NIV He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.
Proverbs 2:1-8 NIV My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
As Christians, we are to live in a fine balance; standing for that which is true while seeking unity among ourselves whenever possible, standing firm in the faith while showing grace to those who do not, holding our leaders accountable while praying for their wisdom and well-being.
Ezekiel 22:30 NIV “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
We are to be those who stand in the gap, who lift up our nation with all it favors and faults before the throne of God, and pray that He continues to work in our midst.
Yesterday, November 6, 2018 was election day. Millions of people went to polling places throughout the nation and millions more voted by mail or voted early. Today there is great elation and great sadness; hope for the future and despair; there are those hoping for healing and those determined to continue fighting; all depending on how you voted. It’s my prayer that no matter the outcome the healing process started when the polls closed. We can all pray that no matter what the outcome of our elections, we will remain solid in our faith walks, true to our beliefs, and still praying for our country.
Psalms 33:12 NKJV Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord , The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
Editor's Note: The following is from No Matter What, God Is Still on the Throne By Debbie McDaniel - Crosswalk.co - The Devotional
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 103:19
Today, close to half of our nation may relate to those feelings. It’s never easy to lose. It's discouraging. Disappointing. You may feel defeated and wonder why it all didn't go your way. Or why others didn’t see things the way you did.
Many will celebrate election results this evening. And, many others will not. Yet no matter which side of the race you’ve been on over these long months, this truth remains... every time we’re willing to have a voice, to take a stand for what we believe in, we “Win.” And we can trust God with the results.
The enemy is at work more than ever during these times. He will seek to divide believers and stir up strife and hate.
Don’t fall for that trap.
Whether it’s in election season or just daily life, we win when we do what God asks us to do. We win when we’re willing to live wisely. We win every time we choose to obey His word to the very best of our ability.
There’s great freedom there. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from defeat. Freedom from anger and hate.
Nothing has taken God by surprise. Not ever. He’s on the throne and Sovereign over all. He has a plan and is at work on behalf of His people, “for such a time as this.” Esther 4:14
Our prayers matter, our voice matters. We can choose to move forward from here with grace. We can choose to stay involved, to have a voice, to be engaged, and maybe more than ever before, to make a difference in our nation.
May we be ever faithful to pray for all those in authority, for the leaders of this land. May we be brave to speak with wisdom and discernment, and to live these days with hearts of compassion and love. May we be strong to follow God’s voice, even when it’s not the most popular choice in our culture.
I was reminded this morning, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” Proverbs 21:1
God’s got this. He’s got us. He is powerful and able to do far more than we could ever imagine.
Grace and peace.
Remember today, God is faithful. And His presence of power and peace rule over all that swirls around us in our nation. Choose to trust Him and believe that He is in control. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
When your world has been turned upside down by the news of a serious, maybe terminal illness for you or a loved one; the death of a parent, child or spouse, loss of employment, a serious financial crises, a divorce, the collapse of a close friendship. When any of those things happen, and sometimes more than one of them happens at once, it feels as if everything is closing in our you and there's no way out.
You may be praying for something that hasn't happened yet too. Maybe it’s for you, a friend, or family member to be healed of an illness, maybe it’s for a financial blessing, maybe it’s for a new job, maybe it’s for a spouse, whatever it is hasn't happened and you are wondering if it will ever happen.
Maybe you’ve been praying for what seems like forever for someone you love to come to Christ. So you wait. You might be asking God for another kind of miracle. For someone to be healed. For someone to be freed from an addiction. For a promotion. Or a spouse. So you pray. You wait.
Then you wait some more.
Author Cindi McMenamin gives us 10 reasons why you might still be waiting.
10 Reasons God Might Not be Blessing Your Life
Are you looking around at other believers’ lives and feeling “skipped over” when it comes to God’s blessings? I’ve received emails from several people in the last month asking why God isn’t blessing their lives? Some of those emails recount all the things they are supposedly doing right and others complained that God wasn’t keeping His part of the bargain.
We know from Scripture that God is a good God who loves to bless His children (Matt. 7:11). At the same time, God knows our hearts, our capabilities, and what’s around the corner for us, so if He choose not to bless in a certain area, that might even be a blessing in itself.
1. You haven’t asked for the blessing.
How many times do we get disgruntled at God because He hasn’t provided for us when we haven’t taken the time to even ask Him for what we specifically need? Sure, God knows our needs. But He wants a relationship with us in which we come to Him, in faith, and ask for what we need.
Scripture says, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). And Jesus told his followers: “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). Start asking specifically and see what God wants to teach you about asking, trusting, and being thankful.
2. You haven’t asked in faith.
If you’re asking God for blessings and He’s still not answering that prayer, it could be that you are not asking in faith, truly believing He will answer. Jesus told His followers: “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22) and “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).
Jesus said everything is possible to the one who believes (Mark 9:23). If you’re having trouble believing that, ask Him to help your unbelief. Jesus honored the sincerity of the man who asked for something and followed it up with “help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
3. You’re asking with the wrong motives.
Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t answer people’s prayers to win the lottery? James 4:3 gives us insight: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Try asking God for blessings that will help you bless others. Or try asking Him to bless others first, rather than yourself. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” If He is your desire and your delight, it will delight His heart to grant your desires.
4. You’re all about you.
I recently received an email from a man demanding to know why God wasn’t blessing him. He recounted one unfortunate situation after another and, in a tone of bitterness, expressed his utter disappointment in God. His email was littered with references to “I,” “me,” and “my.” He never asked what he could do to please God, only complained at how God hadn’t pleased him. He didn’t talk about his obedience or any desire he had to be a child whose Father would be pleased to bless him. In fact, he never even talked about a Father-child relationship with God.
God is not a glorified Santa Claus. Nor is He obligated to bless any of us. If you’re all about you, and what God is or isn’t giving you, God might be choosing not to bless your life until you become all about Him (Luke 9:23). When you die to self (Galatians 2:20), your focus won’t be on whether or not you’re being blessed, but on how to be a blessing to God.
5. There is unconfessed sin in your life.
Are you praying for the blessing of a job? A promotion? Success in a certain endeavor? If there is unconfessed sin in your life, it could be affecting your relationship with God and affecting His handout of blessings. God is all about relationship. So, if He’s not blessing, perhaps the relationship is strained through disobedience in your life or habitual sin that you are not surrendering to Him.
After instructing believers to pray with the right motives, James instructs, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James seems to be implying that as we get the relationship right with God, and maintain a level of humility, the blessings – or promotions – will flow.
6. You are being directly impacted by someone else’s sin.
If you’re being responsible and obedient with your money and yet God is not blessing you, financially, you might want to look at the behavior and spending habits of anyone else who shares your bank account. God doesn’t punish us for the sins of others, but we sometimes share the consequences of sin or irresponsibility from those who are closely connected to us.
The Bible is full of warnings about the consequences of unhealthy associations. For instance, Proverbs 22:24-25 warns: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” Psalm 101 is a good example to us to pray for integrity in all our dealings: “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me. No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence” (verses 6-7).
7. God’s timing is different than yours.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 assures us: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I believe that includes a season for blessings. God may want you to wait and grow in dependence on Him before He gives you something.
Scripture also tells us that God’s ways are perfect and His Word is flawless (Psalm 18:30). That means He knows when it’s the right time for us to receive certain blessings and when it’s not.
8. He wants you to be persistent.
Have you become discouraged or given up when it comes to receiving certain blessings? Maybe you haven’t been persistent enough.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told his disciples a parable “to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (verse 1). Because God is more concerned about a relationship with you than giving handouts, He may simply want you to persist in prayer. Don’t give up. The blessing may be right around the corner.
9. What you’re asking for isn’t truly good for you.
Scripture tells us: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). But sometimes we haven’t stopped to consider if what we are asking or expecting from God is truly good and perfect for us.
Psalm 84:11 assures us “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” That shielding aspect of God’s character might be protecting us from something we’re asking God for that isn’t necessarily God’s best for us. In that case, what we assume is a blessing might not be a “good thing” for us, after all. Trust God with what you don’t see.
10. He IS blessing; you just haven’t noticed.
What do you consider a blessing? Something financially rewarding? Something that makes you happy? The fact that you have life, breath, and someone in your life who loves you are all blessings that He’s given that you may have been taking for granted.
Ephesians 1:3 says God has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” The next 11 verses describe, in detail, our eternal inheritance if we are trusting in Christ Jesus for our salvation. Start thanking Him for all that you have, even what doesn’t appear to be a blessing, and you may find He has already blessed you far more than you had realized.
Do you trust God’s timing? I mean if God’s timing is different from yours can you wait and wait patiently? Do you believe that faith in God includes trusting His timing over yours?
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
You Have To Believe That God Acts on Your Behalf
In order to patiently wait on God’s timing and not “freak out” with stress and anxiety we have to know that God acts on our behalf. We have to rely on Him and HIs timing to guide our lives, not our own schedule and timing. What we can see and know is limited but God’s knowledge is unlimited because He knows the end from the beginning.
Isaiah 46:10 (NLT) Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
It really doesn’t matter what you are waiting on God for; a job, a spouse, a house, a car, a child, healing, whatever. God’s timing is always perfect. So whatever you are praying and trusting God for wait patiently, even if it’s very hard to do.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Faith and Patience Go Together
James 1:3-4 (NLT)3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Faithful and patient Christians inherit the promises of God.
Hebrews 6:12 (NLT) Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
Abraham gives is an example of someone who waited patiently.
Hebrews 6:13-15 (NLT) For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.
What are our choices?
We can try to manipulate our circumstances.
We can try to do things our way. Change our approach. We can try bargaining with God, we can try working with different people, start networking with people we think can make it happen. We can try all of these things but it will not change God’s timing.
We Can Walk away from Him.
We can decide that God isn’t going to move and answer our prayer and that He is wrong for not doing it our way, so we can say I’m done with God because He doesn’t keep His promises. That won’t help because if we walk away from God and try to do it on our own there are consequences. (I’ll talk about them later)
Or we can wait on the Lord and watch Him work.
The best thing to do is just wait on the Lord and see His goodness in action.
Psalm 27:14 (NLT)14 Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
Lamentations 3:24-26 (NLT)24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”25 The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.26 So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD.
How to Trust God’s Timing in Your Pain
By Rick Warren
“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).
It is not God’s job to make every moment of your life easy. If he did, you would never grow up! You’d be immature, spoiled, and incredibly self-centered. That is not what God wants for you.
So when you’re in pain and you pray and don’t see the answers, should you give up? No. Your job is to keep praying and keep trusting God with the answer, because you know that everything he does and everything he allows in your life he will use for good. You accept a “No,” a “Slow,” a “Grow,” or a “Go,” because you know that God is a good Father, even when you’re in pain.
If a doctor does surgery on you and cuts you open, that’s going to cause some pain. But if that surgery saves your life, would you say that’s a bad doctor? No, because she just saved your life!
When God doesn’t immediately end your pain, he is saying to you in that moment, “My grace is sufficient for you, and you can handle a little pain and even a lot of pain in your life, because I am with you and I am going to use this for your good.”
I’ve had a lot of pain in my life. In fact, almost everything I’ve learned in life, I’ve learned through pain. I’ve learned nothing from pleasure. I’ve learned very little from success. But I’ve learned boatloads through pain. God is more interested in making me a man of God than he is in making me comfortable. And God is more interested in making you a man or woman of God than he is in making you comfortable. You will be comfortable for all of eternity in heaven, but right now, you’re in the grow-up stage, so you’re not going to get everything you ask for.
In Scripture, we read, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (NLT).
While you’re praying at one level, God is thinking about your life at a much higher level and from a much bigger perspective. He wants good for your life even more than you do.
Will you trust him?
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.