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Posts tagged ‘Trust in God’

Look for That Silver Lining – Trust in God

Look for the Silver LiningThe prisoner Paul, having appealed to Caesar, was transferred by ship from Caesarea to Rome. There, according to Acts 28:16, he “was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier.”

Able to receive visitors, he boldly witnessed and taught about Jesus. The final sentence of the Book of Acts observes, “And no one tried to stop him.”

Interact with God’s Word

Philippians 1:12-18

  1. What reversals (see Acts 21:15-28:6) are included in Paul’s “everything that has happened to me” (v. 12)?
  2. How would most unjustly imprisoned persons react: Give up? … Turn bitter?
  3. Do you think God planned Paul’s imprisonment to penetrate the center of Roman political power?
  4. Who did Paul regard (v. 13) as his “captive” audience?
  5. How do we know his witness to them was effective (see Philippians 4:22)?
  6. What benefits from his confinement (v. 14) did Paul see for believers?
  7. How did Paul react (vv. 15-18) to those taking advantage of his custody?
  8. When have you seen God snatch ultimate good from apparent tragedy?
  9. What’s at center stage in your life? … Achieving personal comfort? … Contributing to gospel advance?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for the ability to trust Him to use apparent setbacks in your life for your growth in discipleship, and for the advancement of His kingdom.

Philippians 1:12-18

12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.

15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News.

17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

Look for That Silver Lining – “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. James 1:2

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4

Oswald Chambers, author of the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, served as a chaplain to British troops in Egypt during World War I.

The sweltering heat of the midday could reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit inside a tent. But with no shade to protect from the scorching sun, inside was the better option. Add to this the threat of malaria, and the thousands of flies hatched in the waste of horses, and it’s easy to understand why serving in this area of the war was hated by virtually every soldier.

Chambers, on the other hand, found that miserable place a blessing. He was constantly busy serving the spiritual and physical needs of the troops. His diary frequently recorded fits of exuberance. How could Chambers’s experience be so different from that of the others stationed there? Oswald knew the holy Lord of glory, and trusted in His ability to bring good out of evil.

In Christ, God turned the evil act of crucifying an entirely innocent man into something life-saving and redeeming. We must begin to cultivate this outlook in our own lives so that we no longer see suffering as an evil to be avoided, but something to be expected, necessary, and, yes, even a joy-producing privilege.

—Victor Kuligin in Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said

My Response: Is my outlook dependent on, or independent of, my circumstances?

Thought to Apply: Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.—Rudyard Kipling (English writer born in India)

Adapted from Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said (Baker, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Doubly Displaced

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: Everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. Philippians 1:12

Bonus Reading: Philippians 1:13-18

In the 1930s, thousands fled what is now North Korea as the Japanese invaded.  Many settled around Vladivostok.

When Joseph Stalin began developing a weapons manufacturing center there, he deemed the Koreans a security risk.  So he relocated them in five areas around the Soviet Union.

One was Tashkent, hub of the 20-million-strong Uzbek people.  The staunchly Muslim Uzbeks had for centuries violently resisted any efforts to introduce Christianity.  But the Uzbeks welcomed the Koreans for their industry and kindness.  Within a few decades, they were included in all facets of Uzbek cultural life.

In His orchestration of global events, God had planted strong pockets of believers among these transplants.  Little did Stalin suspect that revival would sweep through the Koreans, and that their Uzbek and Kazak friends would begin coming to Christ.

The first public sign of the breakthrough came on June 2, 1990, when a young Korean from America preached to a swelling crowd in the streets of Alma-Ata, capital of Kazakhstan.  Whole Uzbek villages were converted to Christ in the wake of the first open-air Christian meeting in the history of Soviet Central Asia.

—Bill & Amy Stearns in Catch the Vision 2000

My Response: Can I welcome upheaval in my life to benefit God’s greater kingdom?

Thought to Apply: There’s nothing written in the Bible that says if you believe in Me, you ain’t going to have no troubles.—Ray Charles (singer)

Adapted from Catch the Vision 2000 (Bethany, 1991)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Eviction Notice

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 42:16

For the first nine months of 1996, with attendance averaging 25, the group I pastored—National Community Church—met in a public school.

Then the person in charge of leasing the DC schools left a voicemail: Due to fire code violations, the school we met in was being closed.  We were about to become a homeless church!  On September 27 I wrote in my journal, “I feel like we’ve been backed into a corner.”

We explored rental options on Capitol Hill.  Only one door opened: the movie theaters at Union Station.  Looking back, I can’t imagine a more strategic location.  More than 25 million people pass through the station every year.  It’s served by a subway system, bus stop, and parking garage.  There are 40 food-court restaurants right outside our theater marquee.

God perfectly positioned us.  Now, doing church in the middle of the marketplace is part of our DNA.  Our long-term vision is to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the DC area.  But it took a setback—a 500-pound opportunity disguised as a daunting problem—to get us where God wanted us to go.

—Mark Batterson in In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

My Response: Could a setback I’m facing be reframed as an opportunity?

Thought to Apply: Often God has to shut a door in our face so that He can subsequently open the door through which He wants us to go.—Catherine Marshall  (author)

Adapted from In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (Multnomah, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Taking It on the Chin

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: “You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers.  This will be your opportunity to tell them about me.”  – Luke 21:12-13

Bonus Reading: Matthew 5:10-11

Perspective is essential for a person to endure personally directed hostility.  You must see this event as part of a larger picture.

Russian Jewish believer Boris Fishbein tells of an incident in downtown Kiev as he was distributing gospel literature.

“A tall guy asked me, ‘Are you Jewish?’

“I answered, ‘Yes.’

“‘Who do you believe in?’ he asked.

“I replied, ‘Jesus is my God.’

“‘And I believe in Perun (a Ukrainian pagan god),’ he replied.  Then he spat at me and hit me hard on the jaw.

“It hurt.  There was darkness in my eyes.  When I came around, he was gone, but another young man, Vadim, was standing nearby.

Vadim had observed the whole encounter and asked me, ‘Why did he hit you so hard?’

This seeking person stopped to talk to me because he witnessed another’s ill will.  Vadim later prayed with me to receive Christ into his heart. In a sense, the blow on my jaw brought about good results.”

For Boris, the pain he endured was only a small part of a great story of a man’s redemption.

—Susan Perlman in World Pulse

My Response: When has a personal reversal created an opening for the gospel?

Thought to Apply: Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His presence.—PAUL CLAUDE (French diplomat, author, playwright)

Adapted from World Pulse (8/9/02)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Lucky Break

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us.  – Romans 5:3

Bonus Reading: Romans 5:2-5

In high school I’d tried for years to dunk a basketball.  It was my holy grail.  Ironically, it took a broken ankle for me to first achieve that goal.

As a sophomore, I was just running down the court in one of our drills, and tripped over a line on the floor.  I spent the next month in a cast, and remember questioning God.  After all, He could have kept it from happening.

Here’s what did happen.  That semester my classes seemed to alternate between the top and bottom floors of our three-floor high school.  So after every period I was hopping up and down flights of stairs like a human pogo stick.  When you’re injured in one place, you’ve got to draw more strength from somewhere else.

In a process called remodeling, my right leg grew stronger to compensate for my broken left ankle.  The brokenness actually increased my capacity.  I dunked my first basketball while wearing a cast!

Like a broken bone that needs to be reset, God breaks us where we need to be broken.  He fractures the pride and lust and anger in our lives, but He does it to remodel us into His image.  And once we heal, we end up stronger than we were to begin with.

—Mark Batterson in In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

My Response: Where have I been broken? How may God be increasing my capacity?

Adapted from In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (Multnomah, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – From Struggle to Struggle

Look for the Silver LiningWho Said It…Dave Burchett

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director for Fox Sports, ESPN, and Jefferson Pilot Sports. For over 20 years, Dave has directed telecasts of Southwestern Conference basketball and Texas Rangers baseball. Highlights: televising a Nolan Ryan no-hit game and his 300th win. Dave is also an author and speaker. He and his wife, Joni, have three grown sons. They are former staff members of Campus Crusade’s Athletes in Action.

What He Said…From Struggle to Strength

God gave me the privilege of being wounded early in life. My struggles as an overweight, geeky, and generally outcast adolescent molded my heart to empathize with those hurt and ostracized by their peers.

Had I been the coolest guy, the best athlete, or the most handsome dude, I most likely wouldn’t have developed a sensitive spirit to others. So God gave me the opportunity to develop a heart of compassion for wounded others.

I didn’t enjoy that period of my life. I’d have given anything to be one of the popular kids—to be the starting quarterback or big man on campus.

But with the benefit of hindsight, I’m grateful for every refining difficulty and problem I’ve experienced. Such a dramatic change in attitude came over time, through growth in my relationship with Jesus and my trust in the truth of His promises.

Had I been freed of the burden of my tough teenage passage, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Adapted from Bring Em Back Alive (WaterBrook, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Trust in God

Look for the Silver LiningThe prisoner Paul, having appealed to Caesar, was transferred by ship from Caesarea to Rome. There, according to Acts 28:16, he “was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier.”

Able to receive visitors, he boldly witnessed and taught about Jesus. The final sentence of the Book of Acts observes, “And no one tried to stop him.”

Interact with God’s Word

Philippians 1:12-18

  1. What reversals (see Acts 21:15-28:6) are included in Paul’s “everything that has happened to me” (v. 12)?
  2. How would most unjustly imprisoned persons react: Give up? … Turn bitter?
  3. Do you think God planned Paul’s imprisonment to penetrate the center of Roman political power?
  4. Who did Paul regard (v. 13) as his “captive” audience?
  5. How do we know his witness to them was effective (see Philippians 4:22)?
  6. What benefits from his confinement (v. 14) did Paul see for believers?
  7. How did Paul react (vv. 15-18) to those taking advantage of his custody?
  8. When have you seen God snatch ultimate good from apparent tragedy?
  9. What’s at center stage in your life? … Achieving personal comfort? … Contributing to gospel advance?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for the ability to trust Him to use apparent setbacks in your life for your growth in discipleship, and for the advancement of His kingdom.

Philippians 1:12-18

12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.

15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News.

17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

Look for That Silver Lining – “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. James 1:2

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4

Oswald Chambers, author of the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, served as a chaplain to British troops in Egypt during World War I.

The sweltering heat of the midday could reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit inside a tent. But with no shade to protect from the scorching sun, inside was the better option. Add to this the threat of malaria, and the thousands of flies hatched in the waste of horses, and it’s easy to understand why serving in this area of the war was hated by virtually every soldier.

Chambers, on the other hand, found that miserable place a blessing. He was constantly busy serving the spiritual and physical needs of the troops. His diary frequently recorded fits of exuberance. How could Chambers’s experience be so different from that of the others stationed there? Oswald knew the holy Lord of glory, and trusted in His ability to bring good out of evil.

In Christ, God turned the evil act of crucifying an entirely innocent man into something life-saving and redeeming. We must begin to cultivate this outlook in our own lives so that we no longer see suffering as an evil to be avoided, but something to be expected, necessary, and, yes, even a joy-producing privilege.

—Victor Kuligin in Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said

My Response: Is my outlook dependent on, or independent of, my circumstances?

Thought to Apply: Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.—Rudyard Kipling (English writer born in India)

Adapted from Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said (Baker, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Doubly Displaced

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: Everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. Philippians 1:12

Bonus Reading: Philippians 1:13-18

In the 1930s, thousands fled what is now North Korea as the Japanese invaded.  Many settled around Vladivostok.

When Joseph Stalin began developing a weapons manufacturing center there, he deemed the Koreans a security risk.  So he relocated them in five areas around the Soviet Union.

One was Tashkent, hub of the 20-million-strong Uzbek people.  The staunchly Muslim Uzbeks had for centuries violently resisted any efforts to introduce Christianity.  But the Uzbeks welcomed the Koreans for their industry and kindness.  Within a few decades, they were included in all facets of Uzbek cultural life.

In His orchestration of global events, God had planted strong pockets of believers among these transplants.  Little did Stalin suspect that revival would sweep through the Koreans, and that their Uzbek and Kazak friends would begin coming to Christ.

The first public sign of the breakthrough came on June 2, 1990, when a young Korean from America preached to a swelling crowd in the streets of Alma-Ata, capital of Kazakhstan.  Whole Uzbek villages were converted to Christ in the wake of the first open-air Christian meeting in the history of Soviet Central Asia.

—Bill & Amy Stearns in Catch the Vision 2000

My Response: Can I welcome upheaval in my life to benefit God’s greater kingdom?

Thought to Apply: There’s nothing written in the Bible that says if you believe in Me, you ain’t going to have no troubles.—Ray Charles (singer)

Adapted from Catch the Vision 2000 (Bethany, 1991)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Eviction Notice

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 42:16

For the first nine months of 1996, with attendance averaging 25, the group I pastored—National Community Church—met in a public school.

Then the person in charge of leasing the DC schools left a voicemail: Due to fire code violations, the school we met in was being closed.  We were about to become a homeless church!  On September 27 I wrote in my journal, “I feel like we’ve been backed into a corner.”

We explored rental options on Capitol Hill.  Only one door opened: the movie theaters at Union Station.  Looking back, I can’t imagine a more strategic location.  More than 25 million people pass through the station every year.  It’s served by a subway system, bus stop, and parking garage.  There are 40 food-court restaurants right outside our theater marquee.

God perfectly positioned us.  Now, doing church in the middle of the marketplace is part of our DNA.  Our long-term vision is to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the DC area.  But it took a setback—a 500-pound opportunity disguised as a daunting problem—to get us where God wanted us to go.

—Mark Batterson in In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

My Response: Could a setback I’m facing be reframed as an opportunity?

Thought to Apply: Often God has to shut a door in our face so that He can subsequently open the door through which He wants us to go.—Catherine Marshall  (author)

Adapted from In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (Multnomah, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Taking It on the Chin

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: “You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers.  This will be your opportunity to tell them about me.”  – Luke 21:12-13

Bonus Reading: Matthew 5:10-11

Perspective is essential for a person to endure personally directed hostility.  You must see this event as part of a larger picture.

Russian Jewish believer Boris Fishbein tells of an incident in downtown Kiev as he was distributing gospel literature.

“A tall guy asked me, ‘Are you Jewish?’

“I answered, ‘Yes.’

“‘Who do you believe in?’ he asked.

“I replied, ‘Jesus is my God.’

“‘And I believe in Perun (a Ukrainian pagan god),’ he replied.  Then he spat at me and hit me hard on the jaw.

“It hurt.  There was darkness in my eyes.  When I came around, he was gone, but another young man, Vadim, was standing nearby.

Vadim had observed the whole encounter and asked me, ‘Why did he hit you so hard?’

This seeking person stopped to talk to me because he witnessed another’s ill will.  Vadim later prayed with me to receive Christ into his heart. In a sense, the blow on my jaw brought about good results.”

For Boris, the pain he endured was only a small part of a great story of a man’s redemption.

—Susan Perlman in World Pulse

My Response: When has a personal reversal created an opening for the gospel?

Thought to Apply: Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His presence.—PAUL CLAUDE (French diplomat, author, playwright)

Adapted from World Pulse (8/9/02)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – Lucky Break

Look for the Silver LiningKey Bible Verse: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us.  – Romans 5:3

Bonus Reading: Romans 5:2-5

In high school I’d tried for years to dunk a basketball.  It was my holy grail.  Ironically, it took a broken ankle for me to first achieve that goal.

As a sophomore, I was just running down the court in one of our drills, and tripped over a line on the floor.  I spent the next month in a cast, and remember questioning God.  After all, He could have kept it from happening.

Here’s what did happen.  That semester my classes seemed to alternate between the top and bottom floors of our three-floor high school.  So after every period I was hopping up and down flights of stairs like a human pogo stick.  When you’re injured in one place, you’ve got to draw more strength from somewhere else.

In a process called remodeling, my right leg grew stronger to compensate for my broken left ankle.  The brokenness actually increased my capacity.  I dunked my first basketball while wearing a cast!

Like a broken bone that needs to be reset, God breaks us where we need to be broken.  He fractures the pride and lust and anger in our lives, but He does it to remodel us into His image.  And once we heal, we end up stronger than we were to begin with.

—Mark Batterson in In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

My Response: Where have I been broken? How may God be increasing my capacity?

Adapted from In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (Multnomah, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.

 

Look for That Silver Lining – From Struggle to Struggle

Look for the Silver LiningWho Said It…Dave Burchett

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director for Fox Sports, ESPN, and Jefferson Pilot Sports. For over 20 years, Dave has directed telecasts of Southwestern Conference basketball and Texas Rangers baseball. Highlights: televising a Nolan Ryan no-hit game and his 300th win. Dave is also an author and speaker. He and his wife, Joni, have three grown sons. They are former staff members of Campus Crusade’s Athletes in Action.

What He Said…From Struggle to Strength

God gave me the privilege of being wounded early in life. My struggles as an overweight, geeky, and generally outcast adolescent molded my heart to empathize with those hurt and ostracized by their peers.

Had I been the coolest guy, the best athlete, or the most handsome dude, I most likely wouldn’t have developed a sensitive spirit to others. So God gave me the opportunity to develop a heart of compassion for wounded others.

I didn’t enjoy that period of my life. I’d have given anything to be one of the popular kids—to be the starting quarterback or big man on campus.

But with the benefit of hindsight, I’m grateful for every refining difficulty and problem I’ve experienced. Such a dramatic change in attitude came over time, through growth in my relationship with Jesus and my trust in the truth of His promises.

Had I been freed of the burden of my tough teenage passage, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Adapted from Bring Em Back Alive (WaterBrook, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Help me, Lord, not to fret or fume about troubles, but to accept them as part of Your plan for the ultimate good of Your kingdom—and me.