My friend Lindsey Bell is sharing her heart and part of her new book Unbeaten over here today. I pray her words touch your hearts and encourage you today. When God Doesn’t Fix Your Problem By Lindsey Bell What if God … Continue » ...

 

When God Doesn’t Fix Your Problem




When God Doesn’t Fix Your Problem

My friend Lindsey Bell is sharing her heart and part of her new book Unbeaten over here today. I pray her words touch your hearts and encourage you today.

When God Doesn’t Fix Your Problem

Unbeaten Cover

By Lindsey Bell

What if God doesn’t fix your problem?


Of course, I hope He does. I hope He heals your body, provides a spouse, grants you the child you long for, provides a job, or whatever it is you want Him to do. But what if He doesn’t? What if, for whatever reason, God chooses not to heal your body?

It’s one thing to trust God when He answers your prayers; it’s a whole different story to trust Him when He says no or doesn’t say a thing at all. Will you remain faithful even if your greatest fears come to pass?

This is the question Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego each had to answer.

If God didn’t save them, would they still follow Him?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar. Their story is recorded in Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the citizens of his kingdom to bow down to a golden image he had created. Anyone who refused would be thrown into a fiery furnace.

Most of the people living in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom obeyed. They didn’t want to face the rage of a man who was known for being hasty with his sword. Three men, however, refused to bow their faces to the ground in front of an idol. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed God could save them from the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and from the fire.

These men standing up to the king who held their lives in his hands is amazing in itself. Even more amazing, though, is that these men realized God might not save them — and were okay with that! Even if God does not save us, they said to the king, we will not serve your gods (Daniel 3:18).

Impressive faith, huh? Because of this bold proclamation, I expected God to save the men. If I had been He, I certainly would have. With a speech like that, these men deserved to avoid the heat. Apparently, though, God didn’t see it that way.

God didn’t prevent their fire, but saved through it instead. Isaiah 43:2 says…

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Nebuchadnezzar ordered the fire heated seven times hotter than usual. Then he had the three men bound and thrown in. The furnace was so hot it killed the soldiers. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in contrast, weren’t harmed at all. The flames did not singe their hair, and the text says they didn’t even smell like smoke.

When Nebuchadnezzar saw the men walking around in the fire that killed his soldiers, he jumped to his feet and said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)

God didn’t prevent Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from being thrown into the fire. What He did instead was join them in it.

That might be what He does for us too. He might not prevent the fire, but He will join us in it.

He’ll walk with us on the hot coals and make sure not one hair on our heads gets singed. He’ll make sure when we leave the fire, there’s not even a smoke smell lingering on our clothes.

This post contains an excerpt from Unbeaten: How Biblical Heroes Rose Above Their Pain (and you can too) by Lindsey Bell (CrossRiver Media). Used by permission.

About Unbeaten:

Why does life have to be so hard?

Difficult times often leave Christians searching the Bible for answers to the most difficult questions — Does God hear me when I pray? Why isn’t He doing anything? Does He even care?

In Unbeaten, author Lindsey Bell shares the stories of biblical figures who went through tough times. Through this 10-week Bible study and devotional, she reminds readers that while life brings trials, faith brings victory. And when we rely on God for the strength to get us through, we can emerge Unbeaten.

About Lindsey Bell:

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Lindsey Bell is the author of Unbeaten: How Biblical Heroes Rose Above Their Pain (and you can too). She’s also the author of the parenting devotional, Searching for Sanity. She’s a stay-at-home mother of two silly boys, a minister’s wife, an avid reader, and a lover of all things chocolate. Lindsey writes weekly at www.lindseymbell.com about faith, family, and learning to love the life she’s been given.

 

Kicking Against the Goads

“And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'”

Acts 26:14 (ESV)

def goad: a spiked stick used for driving cattle.

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There are times in my life that I feel God guiding me in a certain direction.

Perhaps a set of circumstances seems to limit my options or maybe even land me flat on my back for a few weeks. Other times I notice a message on Facebook, in God’s Word, when a friend calls me, or in a conversation – a repeated message that I cannot shake. And I know God is giving me direction, guidance.

But sometimes I don’t want to go the way He is guiding.

In fact there are times I would rather cut myself deep on the goads God is using to move me along rather than go with Him. I would rather wound myself than walk a path designed by my Creator – a path that He guarantees will be for my good even if it is full of difficulties.

I would rather cling to my sin than allow God to refine me.

I prefer dysfunctional relationships rather than doing the work of restoration.

And in the process I grow calloused to my own sin, wounded by my own refusal to follow God.

There Jesus stood in front of Saul – a man kicking hard against the direction God was calling him to go. Jesus stood in front of Saul and full of mercy and grace said, “…It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” When Jesus could have condemned Saul for refusing to be led by God, He instead sympathized with him. Wayward ones, He is standing before us with kindness in His eyes waiting for us to follow His guidance.

Can you see the kindness of God calling to all of us who are kicking against His goads? He is gently saying there is a better way. Trust Me. Follow my guidance. I can’t guarantee it won’t be painful, but it will be worth it.

Father God, we thank You for your mercy and grace when we kick against Your goads. Forgive us for wanting our way over Yours. Lord we believe that You have good plans for us. We trust that You can and will work all things together for our good. Lord fill us with Your Spirit that we may follow You all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

 

How to Breathe When Hope Hurts

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV)

RMT How to Breathe Hope

Sometimes hope burns and scars a weary soul like acid.

I knew God was able, but He wasn’t doing what He was able to do for me.

For every wonderful God praising miracle there are many who don’t see the miracle this side of heaven. And words of hope can scar the hurting soul and turn it bitter.

Those same hopeful words that scar and burn can also strengthen faith. But it takes embracing the burn.

It means when God doesn’t do what we know He is capable of doing and it breaks our hearts and shakes our worlds and snatches our breath, we embrace the words of hope trusting God to do a work we cannot see or understand.

It means laying down our desires, our dreams on the altar of God not knowing if He is going to burn them up or if He is going to provide another way. (Genesis 22:1-19)

It means looking for little bits of light in the darkness – a beautiful sunset, a gentle breeze, an unexpected encounter. (Habakkuk 2:1)

It means leaning into the God who is able, but may never give you what you want, and trusting His way is the best way. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

It means letting God’s Word be the air you breathe and not the smoke-filled lies of the Enemy. (Matthew 4:1-11)

It means battling our own hearts and minds and focusing on what is true and pure and lovely and holy. (Philippians 4:8)

And the battle to breathe is never one fought alone. For “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

Father God thank You for loving us. Life is so hard sometimes. Help us be people who do not allow the difficult inexplicable things of life cause us to grow bitter and hateful. Instead God help us to be watchmen looking for how You are working in these difficult times. Lord when Your words of hope burn and sear help us to lean into the searing that we may be refined to look more like You. Help us to breathe in Your Word and not the lies of the Enemy. Help us to keep our thoughts and eyes focused on You, who suffered that we may live. We pray these things in the name of Jesus, Your Son who suffered so much for sinful people like us. Amen.

 

Discipling: If It Doesn’t Hurt Sometimes You May Not Be Doing It Right

“…my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”

Galatians 4:19 (ESV)

RTMT Discipling 4-16Childbirth is no joke. Carol Burnett said, “Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over you head.” She is funny, but pretty accurate. To endure natural childbirth women train their bodies to “go with the waves of pain.” They must wait until it is time to push. They must trust that the pain will lead to something great – a health baby.

Interestingly as Paul writes to the Galatians, a group of believers that he is discipling, he tells them he is in the anguish of childbirth over them. In fact he says this isn’t the first time he has been anguished as he disciples this group of people.

No wonder we prefer to evangelize, “get people saved,” and move on with life. For a natural birth a mother can experience anguish of laboring for a long time. Some women deal with labor off and on for weeks. But only once does the mother get to the point of pushing, the point of maximum pain and effort. After that the baby makes his or her entrance into the world.

Not so with discipleship. When we disciple well those we are mentoring or discipling will bring us to the anguish of childbirth again and again. Why? Because when we love well and care about the welfare of someone’s soul their choices in life may break us. As they stumble down the path of faith their detours and falls will cause us to anguish over them in prayer.

That means my detours and falls can also cause anguish to someone else. And I need someone travailing over me in prayer just as much as the person I am discipling needs me.

Discipling is a messy business. It will be painful and you will spend time on your knees begging God to work in ways you cannot. It will bring you to the end of yourself and make you rely fully on God and His wisdom. It will require grace and mercy that only through God you can offer. And humility, it will require you to admit your failings and weaknesses. You will have to ask for forgiveness.

But just like natural childbirth, it is so worth it in the end.

Father God may we be a people who love others well. May we be willing to invest in the lives of others to the point of travail and anguish. Holy Spirit have Your way in our lives that Jesus may be formed in us and through Your power we will guide others to know You and love You well. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

 

Remember…When All You Want to Do is Forget

There are certain things I would rather forget.

Things I want others to forget.

I want to pretend it never happened and move on…

Isn’t that what forgiveness is?

Remembering RTMT

 

Shouldn’t everyone just forgive and forget? Move past my mistakes…and just go on?

“Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.” Deuteronomy 9:7 (ESV)

But wait a minute…doesn’t Romans 8:1 (ESV) say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”?

So how do I stand guiltless and not condemned while I remember my past?

Maybe it is in remembering my greatest acts of rebellion that I realize how serious God is about sin. Perhaps when I am face-to-face with the worst of myself, I can see the greatness of what God did for me.

So I need to remember and not forget what I did and the consequences of my sin.

I must remember and not forget that I have always been rebellious from day one.

You see God did not give the Israelites the promised land because they were righteous or good.

And God doesn’t give salvation to me or anyone because we are good or righteous. No, it is a gift.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…” Philippians 3:9 (ESV)

God loves me even though I royally mess up over and over again.

He does not require me to clean up my act to come to Him, to get it right and then He will consider saving me.

He says, “Angela I know you are rebellious and have always been. Take my gift of faith and let me be your Lord (or boss) forever.”

A perfect God who loves me, a mess who all too often chooses rebellion over obedience. Oh that I will never cease to be amazed at His love for me.

Oh that I would be a woman so humbled by God’s grace that I live my life in grateful obedience remembering my rebellion and standing amazed God’s forgiveness.

 

 
 
   
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