Have You Been Thankful... for the Drought?

"Not my will, but Thy will be done."  Jesus

I was walking along a while back, praying once again for rain. Our part of the country is experiencing one of our worst droughts in many years. The crops are dying or dead, the cattle are stressed - it seems like you cannot look anywhere without seeing the devastation... 

So I was praying for rain once again when it dawned on me how ungrateful I had been. You see, while I had been praying for rain, I had also been praying for God's will to be done. If it had rained and the region had experienced relief from this long dry spell, I would have been thankful. Not having had rain, I was not thankful - and the realization of that thought struck me with power: I was ungrateful.

I was treating God, the Creator of the universe, as if He were somehow beholden to my will, instead of my being beholden to His. I was thankful when I got what I wanted and expressed appreciation that His will had been done. But when I didn't get what I wanted, I acted as if His will hadn't been done... I was acting like a petulant child who did not get his way. Then I got to thinking about Christ.

On the eve of His crucifixion He prayed three times that this cup would be passed from Him. Each time He prayed that God's will be done, not His. When it became clear that God's will was for Him to die at that time, Jesus humbly obeyed. He did so because He loved us more than He loved Himself. More importantly, He did so because it was God's will and it was God's will that He wanted more than His own.

Sometimes we will have challenges in life. Sometimes we bring them upon ourselves, but sometimes they are just God's will. I don't pretend to know why God has not sent rain - I just know that I have been praying for His will and, if I have been faithful, His will is exactly what I have received.

And, though I have been a bit slow in learning this lesson.. I am grateful. Are you?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, NIV

 

Green is Beautiful

Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need: Mercy-drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead. (Old Spiritual Hymn by Daniel W. Whittle - 1883)

If you live in the Panhandle of Texas, you have probably noticed something of late that we haven't seen in these parts for over a year: Green grass. After the lowest 12 month rain fall on record, we have been getting a bit of moisture in recent months. Now, we are still very much in a drought, but we are getting a great start on emerging from it and green grass is starting to show up after a year long absence. And, green is a very, very, very beautiful color!

Droughts cause things to die. They cause farmers to go bankrupt and food prices to go up. Droughts alter the landscape. They cause rivers and lakes to disappear. They kill the crops and the trees. They change lives. Droughts are so harsh, in fact, that even the most depraved of men would never willingly want to experience one.

Isn't it interesting, however, that many people willingly accept droughts of a spiritual nature? For one reason or another, they just get rid of God from their lives. They stop attending worship, they read their Bible less and less, and they even stop praying. When this happens, the inevitable drought begins. And, just like in a physical drought, all of the beneficial things start to disappear. They lose their peace and their joy and their love for their fellow man. In short, they begin to die.

While no one can control a physical drought, we can all choose to avoid droughts of a spiritual variety. So, if you have noticed a very definite lack of "green grass" in your life, maybe it's time to invite God back in. You can start with repentance. Then you can begin talking to God through your prayers and listening to Him through His word. You might even try getting back to the worship again. If you will do these things, before you know it, you will once again begin to enjoy those showers of blessings that we all so desperately need. And, when your life starts to "green back up", you will find that green is indeed a very, very, very beautiful color.

I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26, NIV

 

God Knew it Would be Hard

"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." The words of God, as given through Moses

Picture this. You are taking a course in calculus because you want to become an engineer and build bridges some day. The problem is that calculus is hard. In fact, it is so hard that you made a failing grade on your last test. So you inform your teacher that calculus is hard, and that it is unreasonable for him to think that you can come up with the right answers all the time. The rest of the class (bone-lazy as you) joins in on the conversation. One genius even says, "Ten different people could come up with ten different answers on the same problem, so why should we even try?"

What do you think the teacher is going to say? Do you think that he will agree with his classroom filled with calculus tyrants? Do you think that he will decide that since calculus is hard, he will give them all an "A" for effort and send them all to calculus heaven? The fact is, if he is a good teacher, he won't do that at all... but why not? It's because, someday, some of his students will become engineers who will design bridges - and they will need to know calculus in order to design them correctly. Otherwise, someday, the bridges that these little geniuses build will fall down.

Do you know what the ancient Roman emperors did with the ancient engineers who designed their ancient bridges? They had them stand beneath their newly constructed bridges when the temporary supports were removed to see if their bridges were any good or not.

The ancient Roman engineers were good at calculus.

Now, consider this. The Bible is sometimes hard to understand - I know that, and you know that. Do you not think that God knows that, as well? Why do you suppose it's hard? Why do you suppose that ten different people can look at the same passage of Scripture and come up with ten different interpretations as to its meaning?

Maybe... it's because God knows that we will all have to stand under the bridges that we have constructed, some day.

Will your bridge stand? Better get to studying for, just as the right answer can be found in calculus, so, too,  can the right answer be found in God's word. He knows that it's hard, but He is on our side and will help us find the right answers... if we will only put in the hard work needed to find them 

"Seek, and ye will find." Jesus

 

Get Ready

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.

 

As we look to the state of our nation, of Christ's church, and of our families, one thing becomes very clear: We need a revival! When I talk about revival I don't mean to imply some sort of waving of the hands and loudly proclaiming our renewed commitment to God so that men will think we are more spiritual; rather, I am talking about an absolute renewal of commitment to seek God's way and then to do it!

 

When Joshua succeeded Moses as the one who would lead Israel, God made several things very clear: First, Moses was dead. Second, Joshua was going to take his place of leadership, so he was going to have to get ready. Third, this type of leadership was going to take a type of strength that goes far beyond what most men have, so he was going to have to be courageous - very courageous!

 

This, dear people, is what is the same thing required of us today. If our nation is doing poorly, it is because the church has lost it's focus and has become too worldly. If the church has lost it's focus, it's because the family has become weak. And, if the family has become weak, it's because we as individuals have allowed it to do so by failing to do our part. So, what, if anything, can be done? What do we need?

 

We need revival!

 

Revival starts with being completely honest with yourself. Can you do better? Can you be a better leader within your family? Do you think that you are pleasing to God? Do you want to be pleasing to God? Before you and I can be successful for God, we will have to get ready. That means if you are not satisfied with the way things are going, then you will have to begin to do something different. This will require Bible study and commitment and prayer. God will help you, but you have to do it His way.

 

We as individuals, as families, as the church, and as a nation, have been doing things our own way for far too long - and it is beginning to show! We cannot continue down the path we have been traveling. Our nation is worth saving, Christ's church is worth restoring, your children deserve better, and we can do more... but we will have to be prepared to accomplish such worthy and lofty goals.

 

So, get ready!

 

"Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people get ready... Be strong and very courageous...

Joshua 1:2 & 7, NIV 

 

Friends

But friendship is precious...

Thomas Jefferson

When we are small, our friends are those who agree with us, who give us what we want, who want to do what we want to do when we want to do it. When we become bigger, our friends are those who are less concerned with what we want than what we need. That's why friendship, true friendship, is precious.

We all have had best friends, but not everyone has had a true friend. A best friend typically shares our interests to such a degree that it is mutually enjoyable to be around each other so that we can do the things together that we like to do. This is fun and has its obvious benefits, but it's not always the same as having a true friend.

A true friend is the guy who picks you for his team near the first when he sees that you need a lift because you are nearly always picked last. A true friend is the girl who invites you to sit with her and her friends at lunch because she sees you have been left by yourself and it hurts her to think you might be lonely. 

One of my fondest memories is of a young man who, for just a few minutes, was a true friend when I really needed one. I had just got my driver's license and one of the first things I did was to run into a parked truck on a K-Mart parking lot. As if that wasn't bad enough, when I went inside and the manager paged the person whose vehicle I had just plowed into, it turned out to be one of the toughest guys at school.

Now, try to put yourself in my position: I didn't just run into a car, I ran into a parked car! What a field day it was going to be for this tough guy to tell all of his tough friends exactly how pathetic I was for running into a parked car. The rest of the school year was going to be one long nightmare.

But... instead, when I told him what had happened, he just looked at me and said, "That's okay, I've done the same kind of thing myself". And, that was it! I wasn't the joke of the school, I didn't have to look over my shoulder every time I walked down a hall or into a classroom, and I didn't even have to avoid being anywhere near him for fear of what might happen.

I probably never spent an entire minute talking to the guy ever again, but I will always remember the time when I needed a true friend, that this guy was there for me. And, I can tell you that I have tried to treat others in the same way, because I know what it is like to need a real friend when you are in desperate need of one. And... such a friend is precious!

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24, NIV