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Don’t Assume God’s Not Working

22 Jul

Kathi, holding a tiny baby, walked into a drug store and asked the clerk if she could use the store’s baby scale.

“Sorry, Ma’am,” the clerk said. “Our baby scale is broken. But we can figure the baby’s weight if we weigh mother and baby together on the adult scale.

“Then we can weigh the mother alone, and subtract the second number from the first.”

“Oh, that won’t work,” Kathi said.

The clerk, puzzled, said, “Why not?”

“Because I’m not the mother,” Kathi said. “I’m the aunt.” *

I laugh as I read that, because I’ve often assumed something wouldn’t work, but I had a skewed perspective … or a limited one.

Have you ever assumed that God’s not working in a situation, only to find out some time later that He was working behind the scenes, planning for something spectacular or even “impossible”?

Once, when I felt led away from one job to another, I couldn’t figure out why God didn’t give me the “release” to change jobs right away. A little frustrated, I determined to work hard and “finish well” for as long as God kept me in that job.

Then, months later, God opened an incredible opportunity for ministry and gave me the “go ahead;” but when I went into my boss’s office to tell him I was moving on, I was shocked that he seemed relieved!

A week or so later, I discovered why. I was one of his employees slated for layoff!

God had a greater plan that I could not see, and His timing was perfect.

M. Blaine Smith wrote about his experiences with God’s unseen activity in an article titled “Help from Behind the Scenes” (12-15-97). “If I could glimpse the unseen circumstances that are affecting my destiny,” Smith said, “I would often be encouraged by what I found.”

But then he said, “If I truly knew everything going on behind the scenes that’s affecting my life, I would be unsettled by plenty of it, for I wouldn’t automatically know how to put it all in right perspective.”

How does he resolve his feelings about this? “Yet I have an extraordinary basis for knowing ~ simply as a matter of faith ~ that Christ is working behind the scenes to bring about his best for my life,” he said. “Without knowing any of the details of what He is doing, I have profound reason to be hopeful.”

Over and over again in the Bible, we see that God worked behind the scenes for our good and His glory.

God gave Gideon a glimpse behind the scenes of how He was going to defeat the enemy Midianites (Judges 7:9-15). God opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant to see the powerful angelic army “behind the scenes,” ready to fight against the enemy (2 Kings 6:15-18) ~ one of my favorite Old Testament stories.

Smith notes that, at Jesus’ birth, “few realized that God was acting in a way which would forever alter the course of human history and the destiny of innumerable lives.”

But I’m thinking about the “behind the scenes” story of Jesus’ death! I am awed by this scripture: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Apparently, Satan and his evil cohorts had no idea of the scope of the incredible behind the scenes plan of God in Jesus’ death and resurrection!

Friend, our loving, sovereign God is always working behind the scenes. There’s no need to worry … no need to fear … no need to manipulate circumstances.

We can rest, knowing everything is under control. Let that truth give you hope today!

Comment opportunity:  Has God ever pulled back the curtain to let you see behind the scenes to what He is doing in your life? Or have you been surprised by God’s activity on your behalf? I’d love to hear your stories!

* adapted from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3674

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Nurture Your Humor!

8 Jul

Humor can soften the stresses of life, if we will let it. 

A frantic man got home from work to find his wife doubled over in pain. He grabbed the phone and called the hospital.

“You’ve gotta send help now!” he yelled into the phone. “My wife’s going into labor!”

“Oh, I see,” the nurse said. “OK, calm down. Is this your wife’s first child?’

“No,” the distraught man screamed. “This is her husband!” LOL!

Author  Karen O’Connor wrote many practical books with fun titles, including Gettin’ Old Aint for Wimps, Walkin’ with God Ain’t for Wimps and three other “wimp” books, plus books on aging beautifully and dealing with senior moments.

Karen is a frequent contributor to the blog, Finding God Daily. In a recent post, she wrote about “Finding God in Humor.” 

She asked, “Have you considered finding God in humor? … I believe God wants us to be full of joy and laughter, and to give up fretting and worrying.”

I thought Karen’s article, “Five Ways to Nurture Your Sense of Humor,” was helpful, and I want to encourage LOL with God readers to check their lives to see if these tips are part of their everyday experiences. Karen says:

1. Share a funny or embarrassing moment with someone you know, and enjoy it together.

My friend Melissa called to say she sprayed her hair with furniture polish. “It fell flat but had a nice shine!”

2. Laugh at yourself even when you feel like crying. I thought I’d misplaced my cell phone only to discover I was using it right then to speak with my neighbor. Oh my!

3. Cheer up sick friends with a book of humorous stories or jokes. Help them discover that, as Will Rogers said, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Hmm… I wonder whether Rogers got that concept from the Bible?  Proverbs 17:22

4. Find humor even in serious situations. A woman whose hair was growing in after chemo treatments said her husband Dan helped her laugh every day. “We had a short-haired dog a the time, so when my hair started coming in, he clapped me on the back and said, ‘Great. Now I have a short-haired wife, too!’ I liked my new look so well, I never let my hair grow long again.”

5. Make a list of scripture verses that encourage laughter and tack them up on your mirror or bulletin board to review each day. Here are a few:

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:2).

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful … ” (Proverbs 15:13).

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:21).

Finding God in humor is easy, Karen says, once you look for him there.

She’s so right. Our circumstances can change in a moment, but we will always have the option of choosing our attitudes and looking for God and the lessons He might want to teach us in those circumstances.

I recently heard about a woman whose husband died. In time, she discovered that her life in widowhood ~ which would never be the same ~ had some unexpected blessings. God often surprised her with wonderful moments of joy in her new, single-again adventure with Him. It wasn’t easy, but with great courage, and trusting in the Lord’s presence and promises, she chose to look for positives and “grow” her joy.

I like the word that Karen used … nurture. We must nurture our sense of humor. We must actively help it grow. Karen gave us five ways, and I want to add one more. I think that one of the most effective ways to nurture our humor is to relax in the great purposes of the sovereign God who loves us.

I was at a playground recently and I watched children laugh and play with abandon, knowing that their parents were watching over them. They felt safe, so they could give in to joy! It reminded me of one of my favorite songs: “This is my Father’s World.” One of the verses says: “This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet”

Yes, God is in charge. Even in the tough times, God rules! His purposes are sure. He has a plan for our lives. Ultimately, we will rejoice in praise and worship throughout eternity ~ but we get glimpses of that incredible joy this side of heaven, too.

In her post, Karen quotes Isaiah 55:12:  “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” What a great picture!

Want a big smile? Imagine God leading you forward in joy and peace ~ in victory in the midst of your circumstances.

And then picture the mountains bellowing out a hearty, happy song of praise with all the trees joyously swaying and “clapping” along.

Are you smiling yet? Talk about finding God in humor!

You’re Always on God’s Mind

18 Mar

Little Billy was allowed to sit in his father’s place at a dinner table one evening when his father was absent.

His slightly older sister, resenting the arrangement, sneered, “So, you’re the father tonight. All right, how much is two times seven?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Billy replied nonchalantly, “I’m busy. Ask your mother!” (1)

There’s nothing that discourages children more than parents who are always too busy to answer questions or spend time with them. Parents who are “too busy” communicate a message that the child is not important or valuable.

When parents are too busy, their children might get adequate care, but they may develop bad behaviors to get noticed, or pull inside themselves, withdrawing from communication with others. They crave their parents’ attention.

God is never too busy for us. Though He is managing His vast creation, He’s still always watching us, always listening, always attentive. David seemed amazed that the God of the universe would care so much. “O Lord,” he said, “what are human beings that you should notice them, mere mortals that you should think about them?” (Psalm 144:3) We see this same thought in Psalm 8:4.

Isn’t it amazing that we are always on God’s mind? We don’t have to do anything to get His attention but to call out to Him. In Psalm 115:9, the Psalmist said, “The Lord has been mindful of us.” He has not forgotten about us. He remembers us for our good ~ to bless us, to teach us, to discipline us, to shape us, and more. In Psalm 40:5, the Psalmist says that God’s “thoughts toward us cannot be recounted.” God’s thoughts about us are precious, and the Psalmist says, “If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand….” (Psalm 139:17-18)

We cannot know everything God is thinking, but we learn much about His thoughts toward us in the scriptures. We learn that He loves us. We learn that He planned a way for us to be redeemed from sin and live with Him forever. We discover that He wants an intimate, holy relationship with us.

God’s thoughts toward us are always with purpose (Jeremiah 29:11) ~ “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. “

When you feel most alone, most forgotten, remember that God the Father is thinking of you. He is thinking of you with love and He intends to bless you. How comforting to know that you are always on His mind.

(1) 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, edited by Michael P. Green (Baker Books, 1989) p. 256, #942.

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